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Prajakta Pawar in Kolkata 21 May 2014 - 02:41am IST

Raina backs Uthappa to make India comeback

CSK batsman lauds KKR opener’s stellar efforts in IPL 2014

After carving a place for himself as a finisher for Team India and the Chennai Super Kings, Suresh Raina has been proving his mettle as a top-order batsman in the ongoing Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014. Coming in to bat at No.3 this year, he has so far garnered 360 runs from 12 matches. His latest effort of 65 runs helped his team to a respectable total against the Kolkata Knight Riders. However, Robin Uthappa’s 39-ball 67 snatched the match away from CSK.

Speaking about the KKR opener’s multiple match-winning knocks this season, Raina wished him luck and hoped that Uthappa would make his way back into the national side. Raina himself has been reveling batting in the top order – at No.3. And while talking to IPLT20.com, he spoke about his new batting slot and the adjustments he has had to make for it. 

Excerpts from his interview: 

On batting at No.3

It is good. When you are batting at No.3, it gives you a license to play a long innings. You can use the powerplay when you are playing against a fast bowler and you have to play proper cricketing shots. In the middle order, it is slightly tough for the batsmen. No.3 is a good position to bat as you get to face more balls and most importantly you can control your aggression. And whatever the circumstances, you can control the game. I have been batting well for the last few years. God has been kind, and also thanks to Stephen Fleming, who has been working really hard with me over the years. 

On the adjustments he has had to make during his transition from a finisher to a top-order batsman

It is all mental to be honest. It is about how you cope with yourself in the middle. Sometimes you need to just go there and play your positive shots and at the same time look to build partnerships. Most importantly, I know I am a more aggressive player, but I know when to attack and when not to do so. You have to respect the bowlers because they plan really well against top-order batsmen. Overall, it has been good. Hopefully, I can continue to contribute to the team in the future as well. 

On how he copes with batting in different situations 

It is difficult. When you are to come and bat later in the innings, you have to plan when you are sitting in the dugout based on which bowler has how many overs left, who is playing and how and most importantly who you are batting with. Over the years, while playing one-day cricket, I have learnt how to bat with tailenders and also while taking into account how many overs are left. But I am feeling good. I am learning from the seniors and working hard and hope to do well in the future. 

On CSK’s new opening pair – Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum – that has been setting up matches for the team

Smith has been batting really well and he has great experience. And Bazz is a very smart cricketer; he knows when and how to change gears. Smith knows how to play in his strong zones. So according to me, they complement each other and their batting plan is working well. Although we have lost two matches in a row, we hope to do well in the remaining games.

On where things went wrong against KKR

Well, we didn’t field well. We dropped a few catches, but that happens in cricket. But at the same time, we need to play really well in the next two games, and I hope we do well.

On CSK’s consistency over the years and the key to it

I think it is the discipline. And we have such good support staff that look after the players really well and most importantly we have the best coach in the world – Fleming. He knows what to say to whom and most importantly he gives space to everyone. Our new players also get along very well. Bazz is a nice guy, and Dr. Smith too. Although he speaks very little, he also gets along well with the Indian players. You get to learn a lot, which is good.

On Robin Uthappa’s batting this season (12 matches – 486 runs, including four half-centuries)

He is batting really well. He is hitting the ball well. I hope he continues like that and hopefully he gets a chance to play for India as well. He is in good form right now and most importantly there are some very important series coming up after the IPL and he is in good nick. He hasn’t played for some time for India, and I wish him all the best and hope he makes it to the Indian team and performs well for India too.

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