While it was a surprising sight for many to see Suresh Raina stride out into the middle at the fall of the second wicket during the first ODI in Pune, India’s skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it was part of a plan for the future.
India had their regular number four batsman, Yuvraj Singh, padded up but Raina’s promotion, according to Dhoni, was made keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup.
“We want Suresh to bat at number four for a considerable period of time. The only reason being, we realized who is the number four batsman for you? Is it only Yuvraj Singh? If we go into the World Cup with him in good form and without anything happening, then it will be Yuvraj who bats at number four. However, if you don’t, then all of a sudden, before the start of the World Cup we realise we don’t have a number four batsman and we need some kind of allowance. I think we need Suresh to get some kind of experience (batting at four),” he said.
Raina scored 39 off 45 balls and was part of a 71-run partnership for the third wicket with Virat Kohli.
However, the left-hander was dismissed trying to slog a quick length delivery from James Faulkner over midwicket, only managing a top-edge to third man. Dhoni cut Raina some slack, saying, “He has batted at number six for too long and that’s why you see at times these instinctive shots which the batsman sees and goes after them. I think it is very important for him to use these opportunities really well. If he does, then we will have two batsmen with a fair amount of exposure batting at number four,” he said.
He further added that while the team had players as well as replacements for every other slot, the number four position was a little thin.
“Right now, apart from Yuvraj Singh, I don’t see any other batsman who has batted more than 50 ODIs at number four. That can be a big concern and its something that we have to rectify. There is no point in going too late and then saying we don’t have time to do that,” he said.
MITCH TO INTIMIDATE: BAILEY
Australia captain George Bailey credited his fast bowlers for their victory, singling out Mitchell Johnson who picked up two wickets while conceding only 38 runs in his ten overs. “Our bowlers were outstanding. Mitchell was really fast and he started fantastically well. His first spell really lifted the field,” said Bailey.
He also seemed to define Johnson’s exact role in the side, calling him the “spearhead” of the current Australian attack. “We just want Mitch to go out, bowl fast, pick up wickets and intimidate the batsmen. The energy that he brings into the game is great. It is important to have him firing,” said Bailey.
Opener Aaron Finch also came in for praise, with Bailey praising his ability to take the game away from the opposition.