Young Suresh Raina grew up admiring Brian Lara’s ability to convert 100s into 200s and much more. And, having become an international cricketer himself, was looking for an opportunity to have a one-on-one with the living legend.
Lara, after all, holds two of the most awesome records: 501 not out in a single first-class innings (for Warwickshire) and an unbeaten 400 in Tests.
That chance came rather suddenly, at the Jet Airways’ Mumbai airport lounge on Monday evening, when the 20-year-old came face to face with the West Indies captain. Till then, Raina had been engrossed with his iPod.
His face, of course, lit up when Lara (who’d walked in with Dwayne Bravo) said “Suresh, come over here.”
For the next 20 minutes, as Mahendra Singh Dhoni parked himself on the massage-chair and Bravo tucked into chicken wings, Raina was all ears to what Lara had to say.
“We’d exchanged hellos in the West Indies last year, lekin itni lambi baat ka mauka nahin mila tha… I’ve been overwhelmed… I’m lucky that Brian spoke for 20 minutes,” Raina told The Telegraph as he cleared the security check for the 50-minute flight to Vadodara.
Among other things, Lara asked Raina to think “positively” and not “worry” about getting dismissed. Handy tips, to say the least.
| Suresh Raina
“Brian feels I’m batting fine, but need to always be confident and not worry about getting out… Also, that I must not fail to build an innings once I’ve got into the 20s… Basically, body language bahut important hai,” Raina remarked.
Lara listed the importance of the elbow positioning as well.
It’s to be seen how much Raina benefits, for he has to make good the ground lost in the last four-five months. He’d been very impressive in his debut season (2005-06) and got marked as a terrific finisher in-the-making, but hasn’t really taken his career forward.
Nevertheless, Raina is a strong contender for one of the berths in the World Cup XV. Some even believe he’s a near certainty, thanks in no small measure to his being outstanding in the field.
Raina didn’t get to bat in the first ODI of the current series, in Nagpur, and didn’t make the XI in Cuttack. On Saturday, he scored 23 in Chennai.
While Lara and Bravo took a break in Mumbai for a commercial shoot, the Indians got a day-and-half off after the third ODI and had to assemble in Vadodara by Monday night. The fourth and final match, with India 2-1 ahead, is on Wednesday.
Footnote: Raina, obviously, didn’t forget to thank Lara. The latter, too, got to say just that when the fellow-southpaw retrieved the cellphone he’d forgotten in the lounge.