Mumbai: After the 0-4 thrashing at the hands of England last year in their backyard, it will be payback time when India take on the Alastair Cook & Co. in the four-Test series starting at Ahmedabad next month, Suresh Raina said, here, on Monday.
“I was there in England and I feel the pain of losing that series 0-4. I want to give some of that pain back,” said Raina, who would be leading India ‘A’ against the tourists in a three-day warm-up game at the Cricket Club of India beginning Tuesday.
Raina was of the opinion that the use of SG Test balls in the forthcoming series would be helpful to Indian seamers.
“There is a big difference in the SG Test and Duke balls. We have the bowlers who know how to get the SG Test ball to reverse swing like Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav. It’ll be important how to handle the SG Test ball in humid cities like Calcutta and Mumbai.
“We also have (Ravidhandran) Ashwin and (Pragyan) Ojha who have been amazing. The England team has good seamers like (Steve) Finn, (Stuart) Broad, (James) Anderson and it depends on how they can handle the SG Test ball,” Raina insisted.
While the retirement of Andrew Strauss was a blow to England, the return of Kevin Pietersen into their ranks after his patch-up with other team members was a big boost to the tourists’ hopes, said Raina.
“Yes, that is (Strauss’ retirement) a loss, but they have a huge positive in the form of KP’s return. He wasn’t there earlier, but now he’s back and that’s a big positive for them.”
The 25-year-old left-handed batsman, who is fighting for the lone middle order spot in the Indian Test side with his “role model” Yuvraj Singh, said it was up to the selectors to fill the No. 6 slot.
“Yuvraj has just come back from a serious illness. He’s a big role model. I would love to see him back in whites. I want that spot too. I want to play these four Tests against England. But I’d rather not dwell on who the spot will go to. It’s up to the selectors who they want to pick,” Raina said.
Talking about the warm-up game, Raina said: “This game is very important for me. If I score runs here, it’ll help me, but if I don’t then it’s up to the selectors. If I do well here, I will play the next four Tests.”
Raina, meanwhile, informed that he got tips from former Test batsman Pravin Amre on how to deal with England off spinner Graeme Swann, who has troubled him in the past.
“I asked him about Swann. He troubled me a lot in England and got me out four or five times. He (Amre) told me to keep my shoulder over the ball and my eyes in line with the ball,” Raina said when asked about the specifics of his discussion with the former cricketer.
He added that the three-day match against the visitors will be a good opportunity for the likes of Yuvraj and Ashok Dinda, apart from his own self, to prepare for a long season ahead.
“It’s a long season. We have Tests and then the one-dayers. It’s (India ‘A’ game) a good opportunity for guys like myself, Yuvraj and Dinda. I want to enjoy myself and look to score big runs,” he said.
Raina, who has a modest Test record averaging just under-30 from 17 Tests, said he knew where he stood in the longest form of the game.
“It’s just the mental aspect. I’ve given all that I have had to Test cricket, but a lot of people say and write a lot of things, but I know where I stand as far as Test cricket is concerned.
“Batting at No. 6 is not that easy, very often you get stuck with the tail and have to bat around them. I scored fifties in the West Indies and England and I even batted well against Australia in 2010.
“I’ve played 16 or 17 Tests, but as I play more games, I will understand my game better. I’ve already played 150 ODIs for India and have played six years of IPL. I know what the coach and selectors expect from me and what they need me to do at No. 6. I love to play my natural game and I love to hit the ball,” Raina said.