Suresh Raina's international career started seven years ago in July 2005, but it's been a mixed bag, where he failed to carve a niche in the Test arena, but became a regular fixture in India's limited overs teams. Speaking on the sidelines of the One-Day International series in Sri Lanka, Raina credited MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh for making him an improved batsman in the lower middle-order.
"I have learned a lot from Yuvraj and Dhoni. I have played a lot of innings with them, especially Dhoni. We complement each other well when we bat together. I've learnt to be positive from him," said Raina to the official website of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. "Now we have two new balls to negotiate from each end and we also have to execute out plan well during the batting power play as well. The key to my batting is to be positive. I hardly get 10-15 overs so I have to play at least 30-40 balls and make the most of them."
The role of the No. 5 batsman in ODI cricket, especially in the subcontinent, has changed over the years. Dhoni, to many, is the master of finishing innings. "Dhoni does give me instructions when we're batting together. He says, 'once you get a boundary, you have to rotate the strike; if you and I bat till the 50th over, we can easily score 300-plus'," said Raina. "I know my strengths and I also know that we have brilliant batsmen up the order in Virat (Kohli), (Virender) Sehwag and (Gautam) Gambhir. If Dhoni and I play 20 overs, we can easily score 120 odd runs."
The Indian team had a break of 112 days between their last international assignment - a one-off Twenty20 International against South Africa in Johannesburg on March 30 - and the first ODI against Sri Lanka on July 21. "I was completely rested, went to the National Cricket Academy, trained on my skills and fitness and had a few net sessions with my coach," said Raina about utilising the break. "Then I had total rest and I came into this series mentally fresh. I knew I had to do well in this series because there are a lot of matches coming up."
Raina scored a 45-ball 50 in the first ODI, which India won by 21 runs, but scored just one run from five balls as the Indian batting collapsed in the second ODI, which Sri Lanka won by nine wickets.