Raina made the difference, admit captains

Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Faridabad:With England maintaining a stranglehold over India with the hosts at 92 for five, it was Suresh Raina's unbeaten 81 that made all the difference, according to rival captains Andrew Flintoff and Rahul Dravid.

''For us, 226 was a competitive score and we were right in the game with India at 92 for five. But then Raina's special knock took the game away,'' admitted Flintoff.

''We put up a better show and there was marked improvement in our batting but Raina made all the difference,'' he added.

''Losing the toss wasn't the right beginning and we were in trouble but Raina played a brilliant knock and had a good partnership with (Mahendra Singh Dhoni),'' Dravid said.

On the 20-year-old Uttar Pradesh southpaw, Dravid said, ''As I have said before, he has a great temperament and technique. He's a 20-year-old kid and an exciting prospect. I just hope he keeps learning and improving so that he develops into a serious cricketer in the next decade.'' Raina, on his part, believes Dhoni's presence at the other end helped him.

''We have played a lot together and chased against Sri Lanka. We had decided to bat till the 50 overs and would prefer the singles if we can manage six-runs-an over. Later on, I got some loose balls and played my shot. Nothing was pre-determined,'' he said, adding that he was happy to bat at the number six position even though it was not that easy.

Dravid, meanwhile, opined that India has now developed as good chasers.

''With the infusion of players like Raina, Dhoni and the way Yuvraj (Singh) has been batting for the last six-eight months, we have become a good chasers.'' On the team's 14 ODI win in a trot, Dravid said, ''It's a great feeling. It feels even better to win games like in Delhi and here.

We were not best at times but still we came from behind to win the match. That gives you lot of satisfaction. The youngsters have made all the difference and they are a fighting bunch who are ready to battle even when the chip is down.

'' Dravid, however, looked at discomfort to explain the top order's failure and defended Virender Sehwag saying, ''I think we chased a good score and won the match. On Sehwag, I think he batted well today, showed application, got his feet moving and played some good shots. It was unlucky that he got out.'' He also praised spinner Ramesh Powar who claimed three wickets on his comeback to the side.

''It's not easy on your comeback and I think he was rather unlucky not to get more wickets.'' Flintoff, meanwhile, felt the pitch here was a slow turned and it was difficult to score.

''The Delhi pitch was more batting friendly. Anyway with five more matches to go, I think we showed some good signs and would put up better show,'' he added.

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