Suresh Raina hit a well-poised 100 off 75 balls against England on Wednesday to help India to a mammoth 133-run triumph at Cardiff. It was a knock of maturity and former India captain Sunil Gavaskar acknowledged the effort which helped the batsman take the man-of-the-match award. (Raina Rescues India With Fighting Ton)
Praising Raina for his approach to the game, Gavaskar told NDTV that the batsman has made it a habit to excel in all departments of the game. "Raina is one of those 100 percenters whether it's batting, bowling or fielding. He has always played with the kind of energy that is so rare in Indian cricket," he said. "He played himself in at the start and when it was required, he opened his shoulders and hit some powerful shots to get to a 100 in 74 balls. That is fantastic batting. " (Raina's Innings Was Very Crucial: Dhoni)
India were in a spot of bother when Raina came in to bat at number five. Spinner James Tredwell had ended a gritty 91-run stand between Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane and looked set for more. Raina though anchored himself at one end and denied the hosts with firm resolve. "He has developed a sense of assessing the situation that the team finds itself in and then adjusting his batting accordingly," said Gavaskar.
Asked if having fresh faces helped the Indian team, Gavaskar said that newer players always help a side after a series of losses. "I've always believed that when a team has lost very badly, you need some players who haven't had that trauma of those losses, the trauma of sitting in a dejected, desolate dressing room," he said. "And that's what Raina has brought."
While Gavaskar was clearly impressed with Raina's energy and batting abilities, the batsman himself praised team director Ravi Shastri and legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. "He (Ravi Shastri) was also sitting with me in the bus when we were on our way to the stadium and he told me, 'khadoos khelna hai (play a stubborn game)'. There is a different comfort level when you talk to a former Indian player; you can be free and honest. All the other coaches have been very supportive as well but Ravi Shastri set the tone for us and instilled confidence in the team," Raina was quoted as saying in an interview to BCCI's official website. (Raina Thanks Ravi, Sachin)