Yuvraj called at night and said ‘I’m unwell, be prepared’: Suresh Raina recalls Test debut against Sri Lanka
Suresh Raina had made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in 2005. He had to wait five long years for his Test debut. It was against the same opposition but the outcome was entirely different. Raina, who was dismissed for duck on his ODI debut, scored a century on his first Test match in 2010 at the SSC in Colombo. It was definitely worth the wait for the left-hander as his debut century came while Sachin Tendulkar was at the other end, which had been a dream of young Raina. Recollecting fond memories of his Test debut with former India opener Aakash Chopra, Raina revealed the circumstances in which he was given his Test cap.
Raina, who is now 33, said former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh had asked him to be ‘prepared’ as Yuvraj was down with an upset stomach.
“Yuvi paa (Yuvraj Singh) had called me up the night before the Test match and said, ‘I’m unwell, you be prepared’. He said ‘chances are there that you’ll play’. He probably had a stomach bug or a food infection, so he didn’t play,” Raina told Chopra in a YouTube interview.
Raina said, he couldn’t sleep properly because and the thought of making his debut against a Sri Lankan side comprising Kumar Sangakkara, Tilakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardena had made him nervous.
“I couldn’t sleep the entire night because it was so hot in Sri Lanka, they had some big names in their team and it was going to be my Test debut,” Raina said.
Luckily for Raina, he didn’t had to bat first as Sri Lanka won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat. Riding on double century from captain Sangakkara (219) and centuries from Jayawardena (174) and Parnavitana (100), the hosts declared at 642/4.
The Indian bowlers might not have enjoyed staying on the field for two days in that heat but it allowed Raina to calm his nerves.
“Luckily we lost the toss and we had to field. So I observed the first two days and when my batting came I was ready. If we had batted then probably I would’ve got a duck like my ODI on debut,” Raina added.
Coming in to bat at the fall of VVS Laxman’s wicket, Raina had a job to do. The first was to put bat with Tendulkar and help India avoid the follow on, which was still 201 runs away.
As it turned out, Raina slammed 120 and his 256-run stand with Tendulkar, who had scored a double century (203), allowed India not only to avoid follow-on but to go past Sri Lanka’s mammoth first innings total. Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni had scored important half centuries as India had posted 707
The Test match had ended in a draw.
Surprisingly though, Raina who was the 12th Indian to score a Test century on debut and the first to score tons in all three formats of the game, played only 18 Test matches for India.
Explaining the reasons behind the same, Raina said it was because he failed to understand the time and adjustments required while suddenly switching from white-ball cricket to the red one.
“People think T20 is easy bit we take so much risk in T20s, play the ball in the air. But that is not the case in ODI and Tests, you have to adjust and have good temperament.
“Switching from white ball to red ball cannot be done overnight. You should take at least a couple of weeks practising leaving the ball; know where your fourth stump is. Perhaps I couldn’t understand that balance. I did well in West Indies but got them was dismissed a lot against off spinners, the bouncers troubled me a few times too. So then got engrossed in too much ODI cricket and I didn’t get enough chance in Tests,” Raina said.