I can prove my worth: Raina
With just six years of serious cricket behind him, young Suresh Raina is all confidence. "I was confident of making it to the team," the elegant allrounder told HT from Bangalore, adding, "I gave my 100 per cent in both the fitness and skill camps. Moreover, both Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell were impressed with my game and aptitude."
Raina, who has often remarked that he idolised Dravid, said he's feeling this is some sort of dream come true. "I did share the dressing room with Dravid several times even in camps here, but playing with him in the Indian team will be a dream come true for me," said an elated Raina after being selected for the Indian team for the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka.
Raina will be the fifth UPite to play for the country. The others are Gopal Sharma, Rudra Pratap Singh, Gyanendra Pandey and Mohammed Kaif.
The 18-year-old pushed his case as a sound, industrious top-order batsman, agile fieldsman and tidy off-spinner in his stint at the skills camp, which made him the selectors' first choice ahead of Tamil Nadu's Sridharan Sriram and Hemang Badani.
"I was given overwhelming support by all the seniors at the camp, and I never felt lonely here, as I was backed by my senior and state team skipper Mohd Kaif," he added.
A product of the Government-run Gomti Nagar Cricket Hostel here, Raina attracted the selectors' attention with his scintillating strokeplay for the India Under-19 team during the World Cup in 2004, where he scored a quickfire 90 off just 38 balls against Scotland. He struck his maiden first class century against Andhra last season, besides some other notable performances in the Ranji Trophy. "I was waiting for this opportunity since long and I will try to justify my selection," he said, adding, "Slow wickets in Sri Lanka will be a good opportunity to prove my worth."
Hailing from Ghaziabad and better known as 'Sanu' amongst his friends here, he joined the Lucknow Sports College in 1999, before joining the Gomti Nagar Cricket Hostel in 2002. "Ever since I took up the game, I laid special emphasis on fitness, besides focusing on batting and bowling."
This will be his second visit to Sri Lanka. In 2002-03, he was a member of the India Under-17 team, scoring two half-centuries and took 14 wickets.
As far as his performances in domestic cricket are concerned, the young boy thumped the ball with audacity and produced some fantastic knocks in the Deodhar Trophy and the Ranji one-day tournament. He top-scored with 55 off 65 balls for the India A side in a warmup game against the visiting Pakistani team at Hyderabad earlier this year.
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