Suresh Raina
Sachin Tendulkar (left) and Suresh Raina are pictured in an archived photo.

Suresh Raina, a former Indian batter, recalled renowned teammate Sachin Tendulkar’s advice during the quarterfinal match against Australia at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup on Saturday.

Suresh Raina, a former Indian batter, recalled renowned teammate Sachin Tendulkar’s advice during the quarterfinal match against Australia at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup on Saturday. Raina’s cameo of 34 runs was extremely helpful in this match, as he and Yuvraj Singh put up a 74-run partnership in pursuit of 261. As for India’s possibilities at the ICC Cricket World Cup, Raina discussed those as well. On Sunday, India will play Australia in Chennai for the first time in the World Cup.

I’m writing this from Delhi, where the buzz is palpable in anticipation of Sunday’s opener between India and Australia. We’re aware of the high stakes involved whenever India plays at home, but they need to do their best to manage the crowd. In 2011, the United States and Australia won the World Cup, and in 2015, Australia and England each won the tournament in their respective home countries. Raina, as reported by ICC, wrote in his column, “I am confident that India will win the World Cup in front of their own fans.”

The southpaw attributed his optimism to a number of factors, including a bowling lineup that is familiar with the conditions at home, the expertise of spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the southpaw’s fitness, and the performances of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj. Additionally, he is certain that a large number of runs will be scored if the top three hitters (captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Rohit Sharma) can bat for 25-30 overs.

There are a number of reasons why I am so sure of myself. We have an excellent bowling lineup that can bowl effectively no matter the weather. Having a member of the 2011 winning squad Ravi Ashwin in the squad is a huge boost, as is the return to form of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj following injury. Our pace attack is well-balanced, and Bumrah in particular is looking well right about now. He’s doing great now, and he’ll be a huge asset for us at the World Cup, Raina added.

Virat Kohli will be the show’s focal point at the batting crease, and he plans to see out the overs. We also have a formidable first-game duo. Over the course of his ODI career, Shubman Gill has a batting average of over 60, while Rohit Sharma has hit three double centuries and five individual hundreds in this format. The top three batsmen should just bat for 25-30 overs for the team to comfortably score a large number of runs, he said.

Raina noted that India’s recent Asia Cup victory would give the team confidence, but that the World Cup would bring a different kind of pressure.

The strain at the World Cup will be different, but winning the Asia Cup will boost morale. Every single person in India hopes that India will win this trophy. It’s not like 2011 at all. There wasn’t nearly as much social media available back then. The burden is on every player now because everyone has social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

They have to put everything out of their minds and focus on the World Cup, on performing in front of these supporters, and on feeding off the energy they give off. They should just try to take it easy and enjoy themselves because Diwali is right around the corner and there will be tonnes of parties to attend. In the later rounds of the World Cup, the smallest of errors might mean elimination. They should be able to maintain intense concentration, have a robust mental makeup, and take pleasure in this style,” he continued.

Having played in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Raina believes that Australia, a powerful all-round squad that has won five WCs, will have a good understanding of Indian conditions. He thinks Australia will attack aggressively. He does, however, caution that a strong start is only guaranteed in some World Cups.

Raina used the opening match of the World Cup between England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad as an example. In that match, New Zealand successfully chased down England’s 283 with nine wickets remaining.

“Sunday’s game in Chennai is going to be fantastic. Australia has won the World Cup a record five times. They’re familiar with the wickets and the Indian players because most of them have experience in the IPL, he said.

Everyone, including Australia, wants to have a strong opening performance against India, but this is not always achievable. Take England, for example; they appeared poised to score 340/350 before they started losing wickets, and New Zealand had little trouble reaching their target. Adding, “That exemplifies the quality in this World Cup.”

After an innings of 34* and a 74-run stand with Yuvraj helped India chase down 261 runs in the 2011 WC quarterfinal against Australia, Raina recalled the counsel he received from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.

Personally, I can’t watch a World Cup match between India and Australia without thinking back to the nerve-wracking quarterfinal from 2011. He claimed Australia was the current champions and the odds-on favorite to repeat as champions.

After [MS] Dhoni’s dismissal, I came in with Yuvraj Singh to bat for the sixth spot at 187 for five as my team chased 261. And I knew we had to put in the work, accept our share of the blame, and focus on the game rather than the setting. We needed to bring our A-game in the quarterfinals against the defending champions, and we did just that.

Before I went on to bat, I can recall sitting next to Sachin [Tendulkar] and the stadium being absolutely packed with supporters shouting and screaming. He instructed me to go out there, get in the zone, and keep my cool. I had already played 100 ODIs at that point, so I was familiar with playing those important knocks, and he said I could do it. ‘Let’s do it for India,’ I told myself and kept my cool.

Raina feels India can achieve the same result, but he knows Australia will give them a run for their money. While he sees England and New Zealand as formidable opponents, he warns against underestimating Afghanistan because of their spin attack.

I’m hoping for a repeat performance this weekend, but I also expect Australia to be in the running for the trophy. He warned, “Don’t overlook Afghanistan; I see them, New Zealand, England, and India as the main challengers.”

If they score between 260 and 290, their spinners, capable of bowling 30 overs well, will be able to turn the game in just two overs. They’ve got some solid all-round batsmen and they’re playing like a team, showing courage and enthusiasm in their approach. I have no doubt that they will blow people away.

However, I’ll be concentrating on India this coming weekend. He finally said, “I am expecting a classic between two world-class teams, and I cannot wait to see how this squad responds to the challenge.”

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