Indian middle-order batsman Suresh Raina, who returned to the Indian side after a year-long hiatus, impressed with his allround performance in the third T20I against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town. He smashed 43 runs in 27 balls as India posted a target of 173 for the Proteas to chase. With the ball, he managed to get the crucial wicket of the dangerous David Miller and recorded figures of 27/1 in 3 overs.
Raina, who was awarded the man-of-the-match award for his performance, said that he hopes to return to the 50-overs format. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Raina said, “This moment (comeback) is very important for me. From here on we will play in Sri Lanka and then IPL. We have a lot of matches coming up. I have been part of the World Cup before and I have won the World Cup before in 2011. It was my first World Cup and we won the trophy. That was an unbelievable feeling. Coming back to ODIs, I have done well at No. 5. It is just a matter of couple more games and I think I can show that I can definitely come back in the ODIs too soon,” he said.
He further praised Indian skipper Virat Kohli and said he has faith in his players. “The way Virat led the team in last two and a half months, he showed he cares about each and every person. Batting at No. 3, he has done brilliantly in T20 cricket but he gave me that license to go after the bowlers and attack. He showed the faith in me,” he said.
The left-handed batsman, who has gained the reputation of being one of the most dangerous customers in the powerplay overs in T20 cricket, further said that his strategy has always been to score runs in the first six overs.
“Today, I was enjoying batting with Shikhar Dhawan. He made me more comfortable at the other end. I just looked to enjoy myself and express my shots. That’s what we have done in the first six overs (throughout the series). I think T20 is all about six overs. You can put a lot of bowlers back easily if you have wickets in hand and you can execute later on,” he said.
He further went on to praise the efforts put on by Indian bowlers and said they won the match for India. “When South Africa won the toss it meant that they had to bat well in second innings. With 171, when you have Bhuvi, Bumrah, and Hardik, you can easily defend with the good fielding unit we have. In the last two games, they (SA) played really well but this wicket was different. We bowled really well. Our bowlers used a lot of variation. It is not easy to smash every ball and at the same time, you need to see where you will finish after powerplays especially when you are chasing 171. You need to have a good start in six overs but our bowlers did tremendously well and they bowled in good areas.”
The 31-year-old added that the confidence in the unit has helped the side. “The way we played in Tests and ODIs, it showed what we can achieve as a team in South Africa. No team has ever done it before. That confidence in the dressing room gave us license to enjoy ourselves on the ground and express ourselves. That’s why we won this game. We bowled beautifully in the first six overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya did well. T20 cricket is all about how you put your attitude on the field and that’s all we showed today,” Raina said.
The left-arm batsman, who played his last ODI in India colours back in October 2015, further added that he has been working a lot on his fitness. “I worked really hard for last two years. Each and every session I was doing in the gym or on the field, I was just hoping when am I going to play for India again. I have worked really hard on my game as well as my fitness and my mental toughness. When team India wins everything looks so nice,” he said.
India won the 3-match T20I series against South Africa by 2-1.