Monday, 6 October 2014

High praise for talismanic Suresh Raina

BANGALORE: Chennai Super Kings' specialist limited-overs batsman Suresh Raina came in for high praise from their coach and former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming.

Referring to Raina as the team's talisman at No. 3, he pointed out that the left-hander was one of the most consistent players in this format. "If he stays in for a while and scores, we will win matches," he said.

Of late, Raina has worked hard on a few aspects of his game and these have come in handy in this format, said Fleming, hailing him as a special talent.

"He gave a masterclass on how to chase down a competitive score. I thought that 180 was a bit above par on this pitch.

"They had a good partnership (between Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa). So did we (between Raina and Brendon McCullum). But ours was bigger and gave us the opportunity to win the game comfortably," he said.

"Playing KKR is never easy. But we have a great desire to do well in semifinals and finals and our senior players play a huge part in increasing the tempo of the game. Still, T20 is a game of inches. You saw that today when after catching, the fielder went over the ropes. So the odd edge here or there or the catch or marginal six could define a game. Today was a fine performance under pressure with the bat," he said.

Praising left-arm spinner Pawan Negi, Fleming stated that the youngster hadn't had too many opportunities but was a hard worker.

"We could not really play him in the IPL, but his opportunity came in this tournament and he grabbed it. We are impressed with the beautiful way in which he bowled," he said.

KKR skipper, Gautam Gambhir, when asked about Negi's performance said he did not want to be drawn into commenting on individuals.

"The format is such that batsmen have to take chances against a particular bowler. He obviously bowled well to get the five wickets, while we lost too many wickets going after him."

Gambhir remarked that he thought 180 was a good total on a pitch where the ball was gripping a lot.

"But we did not factor in the dew while defending that target. It hastened the pitch a bit for the CSK batsmen while our bowlers struggled.

But I'm proud of my team and what it has accomplished this year. Winning 14 matches on the trot in the T20 format is unimaginable and we can be proud of that record. We have great talent and depth in batting, bowling and fielding."

Commenting on the absence of their star, Sunil Narine, Gambhir said: "Yes, we missed him. He's an integral part of the team and I'm sure he will sort out his problems. He's a strong character and we look forward to him coming back stronger for the IPL."

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