New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) On flat wickets in the subcontinent the batting powerplay can prove decisive. That’s how Suresh Raina thinks ahead of the World Cup and he expects batsmen to be a lot more innovative to get full value for those five overs.
On India’s none-too-impressive record in batting powerplay, Raina admits that they are trying to come to grips with the innovation introduced in 2008 and they have players to make use of it.
“All matches will be high-scoring because of the flat tracks. So capitalising on the batting powerplay will be crucial. If we manage to score close to 40 runs in those five overs without losing wickets, then we can push for a big score in the last 10 overs,” the 24-year-old from Ghaziabad told IANS in an interview.
“We have players who don’t get flustered by three-four dot balls during the powerplay; their big shots will compensate for it.”
Raina, who struck a century on Test debut last year in Sri Lanka, also pointed out that it wouldn’t be easy for the opposition to tonk the Indian bowlers in the powerplay.
“We have good spinners who can bowl tight during powerplay, getting runs off them won’t be easy. Batsman have to work hard to get big runs of spinners on turning tracks and if they try to force the pace they might end up gifting their wickets,” he said.
Apart from powerplay, Raina feels that fielding can make a difference and it is India’s strong as well as weak suit.
“If we can field well, no team can stop us. If we can cut off 30-40 runs, it will be of great assistance to the bowlers, more so when we have to defend a small total. Bowlers can get wickets by experimenting if they are backed by good fielders. We have always fielded well under pressure,” said Raina, a livewire in the field.
On his experience batting at No.6, Raina said: “When you are batting at No.5 or 6, you don’t know when your chance will come. You may get it in the 20th, 35th, 45th or even in the last over. But I am always ready for the first ball. Sometimes you get runs and sometimes you don’t. But you have to believe you can score and when I fail I am concerned about what my captain and coach say.”
On fitness of the team, he agreed that it is of average standard, but they have been working hard to attain higher levels.
“Our fitness levels may not be of international standards, but we are striving to improve. We all know a brilliant catch, a run out or a stop can change the course of the match,” he said.
Raina, who will be playing in his first World Cup, says he is well aware of the pressure of playing at home but that will help him to perform better.
“When there is pressure, responsibility comes with it. You get goosebumps and you know you have a chance to do something special for the team. And then you try to make the most of the opportunity to show that you have the calibre to bail the team out of precarious situations. But you succeed at times and you don’t at some other times.
“Success teaches you that you can do it and failure tells you to be better prepared the next time,” he said.
Backing your ability will always work in pressure situations, feels Raina.
“I know what pressure is all about. I have played a lot of matches in India and I know what fans expect from you. It is better to play your natural game, have faith in your ability and keep backing yourself. Crowd support will be there and we have to go out and enjoy ourselves. We have done well in pressure situations and in big events.”
On the competition between him and power-hitter Yusuf Pathan in the middle order, Raina said: “There is a healthy competition in the middle order. But our batting styles are totally different. Everybody has a chance, but I have been batting at No.6 for the last 60-70 ODIs. It requires a lot of patience to bat No.5 or 6 as the game changes every minute.”
To add another dimension to his role, Raina has taken his part-time off-spin seriously.
“I am bowling at the nets regularly. Harbhajan (Singh) has advised me to concentrate on bowling dot balls. I have the ability to pick wickets and just need to work hard on it. We have to stay humble, committed and disciplined and no team can stop us from winning the World Cup.”