Monday, May 24, 2010

Raina leads team hungry for success

Stand-in captain Suresh Raina believes his young India team are "hungry" for success on their forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe later this month.

The 23-year-old is set to captain India following a disappointing World Twenty20 Championship in the West Indies, where their campaign came to an end in the Super Eights earlier this month.

Raina is standing in for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has been rested along with other senior players including Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag for the tri-series which also involves Sri Lanka.

He said: "We want the World Twenty20 disappointment to quickly become a thing of the past.

"The Zimbabwe tour will be an opportunity to learn and press for a regular berth in the ODIs and stake a claim at the highest level - Test cricket."

Raina knows his largely inexperienced side will have to work very hard to achieve success.

He said: "Our biggest challenge is to try and win every game. But I will not put myself or my team under excessive pressure.

"I realise one has to be disciplined and one must follow the process. The players are very eager and committed to make a mark."

The explosive batsman added that the selectors "took a positive step when picking such a young side".

But he said he knows his side well and believes the team's determination will pay off.

"We have a very good chance in the tri-series. The players are keen to do well. At some level or the other, I've played with all those who've been selected in Under-19, India A and India. I know them and they know me."

Taking tips from his mentors Dhoni and Saurav Ganguly, Raina feels the most important aspect of being a good captain is earning his team's respect.

"I've learnt from Dada (Ganguly) and Mahi (Dhoni). A good captain is somebody who gets the team to bond together, somebody who is able to communicate.

"Somebody who has the respect of his players. That's very important."

Although he is eager to perform in his new role, Raina is looking forward to his first Test cap with great anticipation.

"I was in the squad for the last Test against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in February. I didn't get to play, but felt I'd scored a hundred after our win.

"I can only work hard. Test cricket is a great form and the biggest performers get so much respect. Sure, there's something to look forward to.


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