Mumbai: Having scored a solid 134 for Rest of India against Mumbai on Thursday, Suresh Raina insisted that he would make it count if he is recalled to the Indian squad against Australia in the upcoming four-Test series, commencing in Chennai later this month.
"I'm hitting the ball really well. The last four fifties and a hundred have made me tougher. I was disappointed that I didn't get any hundreds in the ODIs (against England), so I had more desire to make a hundred in this game," said Raina. "Fortunately it was done today and God has been really kind. Hopefully, when I get the chance against Australia, I will prove myself again," said the left handed batsman, who top-scored in RoI's imposing total of 526 in the Irani Cup game against the Ranji Trophy winners Mumbai.
Raina lost his place in the Test team after a not-too-impressive show in the short two-Test series against New Zealand in September and was not considered for the four-game rubber subsequently against England. The 26-year-old UP batsman, who has figured in 17 Tests so far, wants to make score big tons.
"It's very important for me to just look to score 100. Not just 100 but 150 or 160, then I can be more mentally tough for Test matches. I have done that in the past and have scored two or three double hundreds in first class cricket.
"When you score a lot of big hundreds, it definitely helps your batting," Raina, who has just one hundred from his debut match against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2010, said. Raina said he combined well with Abhimanyu Mithun, with whom he put on a 153-run stand for the seventh wicket to push the RoI total beyond the 500 mark.
"I had a good partnership with Mithun. Earlier as well, he has batted well. In my debut Test match he scored 50 or 60. He was batting well and we were communicating well." Raina, who scored his 11th first class hundred, said he knew how to bat with lower order batsmen, having learnt the art from Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the others.
"Over the years I have learnt from my seniors like Dhoni, Yuvraj and Michael Hussey (playing for Chennai Super Kings in IPL). It's always good to trust your partner, specially 7,8,9," he said.
Heaping praise on Dhawal Kulkarni, the leading Mumbai pacer, for bowling well, Raina said, "He was bowling in good areas. I had to be calm and technically sound against him because he was bowling really well. I was trying not to play any risky shot and hang in there till the last ball.
"It is always special when you score against Mumbai. They are domestic champions. They have won it so many times. I knew I had to play well in this game because whenever you play in Mumbai, it always feels special on this wicket.
"I have played a lot of matches here; have played a lot of Times Shield trophy games here. I used to play a lot of matches at MIG and CCI," he added.
Raina, who was unbeaten on 36 in a team total of 330 for five on Wednesday, said he told himself that he should try and bat till tea on Thursday. "When I got 36 last night I was telling myself to bat till tea. I was just trying to be solid and calm. I was telling myself not to play big shots, because I knew I could play 180 balls and easily will get 140-150. That was my game plan. Glad I did that."
About his side's current position in the game, Raina said Mumbai have two more brilliant batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma to come in. "We have three more days to go and we need to bowl well. They still have Ajju (Ajinkya Rahane)...he is batting well and (Wasim) Jaffer got a brilliant 80. Still they have two more brilliant batsmen, so we have to work really hard on Friday."
Mumbai left arm spinner Ankit Chavan, who grabbed three wickets after lunch to bring about an end to the RoI innings, said the wicket was playing the same as it did on day one. "Wicket is playing the same as on Wednesday. It became a bit slow as the game progressed. They also gave us chances, the bowling was good and we got the wickets. The wicket might get a little slower and it might turn on day 3 or 4," said Chavan, who took 3 for 56.
"Considering the wicket we did a good job in restricting them today. It's obviously a big score, we have good batsmen. We will try to bat well and achieve the first innings target," he added.