Suresh Raina has acknowledged that the presence of Ravi Shastri in the Team India dressing room has been inspirational. Raina scored his fourth century on Wednesday as India scored an emphatic 133-run win in the second ODI in Cardiff against England. Shastri was appointed as director after India were routed 3-1 in the Test series.
Shastri's role in the team management has been a subject of much speculation. BCCI wanted chief coach Duncan Fletcher to report to the former Indian all-rounder. But skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni clearly said Fletcher is "boss", hinting that the chief coach's powers were not curbed. Raina, perhaps, has somewhat cleared the confusion.
In an interview to the BCCI website, Raina said: "Ravi Shastri gave us a lot of confidence. He came to the team meeting and said a few words to the team which were very inspiring.
"He 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."
That should be music to BCCI's ears. All that Team India need at this stage is inspiration and if Shastri can lift the self-belief of players like Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, India should be in cruise mode in the ODIs.
Interestingly, in his last eight innings versus England in ODIs, Kohli has recorded three ducks -- one each at Kolkata on October 25, 2011; at Dharamsala on January 27, 2013 and at Cardiff on Wednesday.
Raina has justified his recall to the ODI team. In March, he was dropped from the full-strength Indian team for the Asia Cup. Raina's innings acted like tonic. His 75-ball hundred was his first outside the sub-continent. His effort was the end result of hard work and some useful tips from Sachin Tendulkar and Pravin Amre.
"After all the work I had put into my game in Mumbai with Sachin paaji and Amre sir, I was determined to join the team and bring them some happiness, whether it is by scoring a hundred or taking a brilliant catch. I had to bring the smiles back on my teammates' faces. I am glad I could do that," said Raina.