Having played a key role in the one-day series against England after being ignored for the four-Test rubber against the same opponents, middle-order batsman Suresh Raina has said he would like to utilise the Irani Cup match in Mumbai to earn a recall to the Test squad.
"I have been scoring runs in last 10 matches. So this is the chance. I need to do well in this game; then I can come back to the Test team. Hoping for the best. I am looking forward to this game," Raina told reporters in Mumbai on Monday.
The UP left-hander is a member of the Virender Sehwag-led Rest of India squad to take on Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in the Irani Cup clash from February 6-10 at the Wankhede Stadium.
The ROI players practised on Monday afternoon at the stadium ahead of the match and the notable absentees were captain Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Murli Vijay and Manoj Tiwary.
"I am working hard and batting well. I hope I make a good score. Then I will get a chance (to play in the Tests against Australia)," Raina said.
India host Australia in a 4-match Test series from February 22.
Asked about off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's recent claim that India would make a clean sweep against Australia, Raina said currently he was focusing on the game against Mumbai.
"This match is important. I am not looking at 4-0. I am trying to do well against Mumbai. If I come back to the Test team, then definitely we will try to defeat them.
"If an experienced player like Harbhajan is saying this, then definitely we would be able to defeat them 4-0 if we play well."
India were whitewashed 4-0 by Australia in the latter's backyard in the 2011-12 season.
Raina said he has improved as a cricketer and can play close to 50 Test matches.
"I have played just 17 Test matches. I am sort of a guy who always believes in hard work. Always believes in discipline. So I know if I work really hard on my game, definitely I will be able to play at least 50-60 Test matches," he said.
"I have already played close to 150 games batting at six or seven, so I know what kind of pressure I got when I went out to bat, but still have a lot of experience. So if I get the chance this time, I will look to be solid," he added.
Raina played two Tests against New Zealand at the start of the season and scored three in Hyderabad and 55 and 0 in Bangalore.
"I did well initially but didn't get runs against England in last three Test matches (in England in 2011-12) but did well in the West Indies. I have been batting well. I need to be more solid, need to be more mentally strong. If I do well in this game, then I hope I get the chance," said the UP player.
On adjustments needed to play different formats, he said, "It is all about temperament, how you approach the game. If you look at the last 10 innings, I have been batting well, especially as I got a chance to bat up the order."
Raina, who bats lower down at number six or seven, said he would like to be promoted in the batting order and said he got tips from veteran batsman VVS Laxman on how to bat with tail-enders.
"I spent a lot of time with him. We played three Test matches in West Indies. He was telling me that you need to earn the respect from tail-enders.
"(He said) You are batting with tail-enders, they tend to play big shots. But if you trust them when they are batting with you then just talk to them whenever you get the chance. If they can spend time with you then you can easily get 60-80 extra runs for the team," said Raina, adding "over the years I have learnt how to bat with the tailenders."
On the Irani Cup match, Raina said it was an important game with so many players trying to make a comeback.
"It's an important game. If you look at the last series, we didn't play well against England in Test matches. You have got the best team from Mumbai and all the players in Rest of India are trying to make a comeback. Viru bhai is leading us, so his experience is there for us.
"In the other team Paaji (Sachin Tendulkar) is playing. They have (Wasim) Jaffer and Ajit Agarkar has captained well. We have all youngsters in our team. Our coach Vikram Rathore (national selector) said just enjoy the game, this is a good challenge before the Australia series."
Raina also said he is relishing the prospect of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag playing from different teams and said it would be a good contest.
"It is a good contest. The two have made the same record. One scored 200 first (in ODIs), then the other scored 200. Viru bhai is a player who always attacks the ball. He is the first Indian to score a triple hundred. He is a positive cricketer. I hope we get a good contest.
"It is an important game. Mumbai has won (Ranji) 40 times and our team is also good, so I hope we get to see a good match," he said.
Asked if he would like to replicate the attacking style of play in Test matches, Raina said, "It depends on your instinct. When you get the balls in your area, you need to play the shots; because you get a phase where you need to score runs and dominate the play.
"If you see Viv Richards or Sehwag and other great players who were attacking, you need to play shots but also need to respect the balls. You need to bat five hours to score 100 runs but Viru bhai is a player who can bat one or two hours and score 100.
"I know if I can bat three and a half to four hours, I can score 100. In the longer format you need to spend more time to score runs," Raina said.