This exclusive Suresh Raina interview was taken by Ashwat Ramani for CricketFundas on 14th December, 2005, and reproduced on OyeCricket.com. In this Raina Interview, he talks about his Under 19 days and his entry into cricket. Suresh Raina as we know has grown into becoming a match-winning batsman for India in ODIs and T20Is. He has also gone on to become a force to reckon with in the IPL playing for the Chennai Super Kings. Raina of course has had a poor Test career and an average first class career. But his ability to play the big shots effortlessly and score runs quickly has never been questionable.
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Excerpts from Suresh Raina Interview
Suresh Raina Early Life
Suresh Raina, tell us about your early days in Cricket. How did you start playing Cricket?
Suresh Raina: My cricket started in 1999 at the sports college in Lucknow. My coach was Deepak Sharma Sir, who was from NIS, Patiala. He always supported me from the beginning. He used to help me with my batting and also work on my fitness. Normally players from the hostels don’t give much importance to their fitness, but my case was different thanks to my coach. He helped me focus a lot on my batting and bowling which worked out really well for me in the future. I was the captain of the Under-16 Uttar Pradesh team. Then I was also selected for the Indian Under-19 team very recently. So to sum it up, it has been a really good experience for me till now.
Suresh Raina Under 19 Memories
You were a part of the India Under-19 team which played the World Cup at Dhaka in February-March. So how was that experience?
Suresh Raina: The Under-19 World Cup was a tremendous experience for me. In the end we lost the semis against Pakistan which was very sad for us. We had won around six matches till the semi-finals and the boys had really played well throughout the tournament. Gaurav Dhiman and RP Singh bowled very well; Shikhar Dhawan was in ominous form throughout the tournament. After the World Cup, I along with Shikhar and Venugopal Rao attended a camp in Australia which was really helpful for us.
You scored a quick-fire 90 runs against Scotland of just 38 balls in that World Cup. How did it feel during that time?
Suresh Raina: Yeah that was a good match for me as far as my batting is concerned. I had spent a lot of time in the nets prior to that match. The situation demanded me to play my natural game and I just did that. The opposition bowlers were quite weak so I took advantage of that fact and attacked them. We also made the highest total of 426 in that World Cup. I enjoyed my batting in that tournament.
Which was your most memorable match in that tournament?
Suresh Raina: My most memorable match in the Tournament was the one against West Indies where I scored 66 runs in a tough situation along with Dinesh Karthik who batted really well in that match. Again during our bowling, I chipped in with 2 wickets and was also awarded the Man of the Match.
Talk About Suresh Raina Bowling | Suresh Raina Interview
How much importance does Suresh Raina give to his bowling apart from batting?
Suresh Raina: Yes, I do concentrate on my bowling; I bowl right arm off-breaks. When I toured Sri Lanka as a part of the Under-17 team, I had worked a lot on my bowling. Our coach Prasanna gave me some important tips to improve my bowling. He helped me during the World Cup and also in the Ranji Trophy. So it was a good experience learning from him.
You also played 3 Tests against England Under-19 in England in 2002. How good an experience was that?
Suresh Raina: Yes, that was the first time that I was traveling abroad to play a game. For a batsman, scoring runs abroad is always a challenge. I scored around 170 runs in 3 Tests with a highest score of 72. We had a good team, so it was quite a good experience out there in England.
Talk About Suresh Raina Ranji Team
What are your future plans for this year’s Ranji Trophy?
Suresh Raina: Right now, I think I am doing fine. I am trying hard to better my performances every match. Last week, I scored an unbeaten 89 against Assam and we won that match. So I want to do well, which will help me improve my batting as well as the team’s performance. Even today, I was playing well on 49 but got out to a really good ball from NP Singh. I’ll make sure that I don’t repeat the same mistakes and do well in the future. I want to perform well for my team in the Ranji Trophy and also the Under-19 team so that I get selected to play for India in the future.
You represent Air India in the Times Shield in Mumbai? How competitive is club cricket in Mumbai?
Suresh Raina: Yeah, I play for Air India in the Times Shield Trophy. I scored a double century in my debut match over there, and then followed it up with another century against TATA. So that was quite a good experience. The teams are quite competitive and we don’t get to play many 4 day matches in the Under-19 level, so club cricket gives us a lot of exposure. Our coach is a former Indian Player Pravin Amre and he helped me a lot in my batting, bowling and my fitness. Our captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar who has also played for India, has also been very helpful.
Who have been the most toughest bowlers you’ve faced till now?
Suresh Raina: I think the toughest bowlers whom I have faced are the Aussies, namely Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee. These bowlers are really accurate and have an immaculate line every ball they bowl. You have to concentrate a lot while facing bowlers of such high caliber. I just got to play just around 10-12 balls from each bowler, but even then it was quite a good experience.
When can we expect Suresh Raina in the Indian Team?
Suresh Raina: I am trying hard and will continue doing that, remaining is in the hands of the Almighty. I just hope that everything goes well with me and I play for India in the near future.
Also see: Suresh Raina Statistics