14 June 2024 last updated at 01:04 GMT
Raina has faith in the youngsters
Wednesday 01 June 2011

Stand-in skipper Suresh Raina is upbeat and confident ahead of the testing West Indies tour.

Raina, who will touring the Caribbean with a young side sans the stars, has called on the juniors in the side to make a name for themselves on the tour.

India will be missing several players from the victorious World Cup campaign including regular skipper MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, leaving the team with only two regular frontline batsmen in Raina and Virat Kohli.

Raina said this was a great chance for players like S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to replicate their domestic form at the international stage.

"It's a great opportunity for the youngsters who have done well in domestic cricket. I hope they will do well," said the 25-year-old Raina at the pre-departure media conference of the team on Tuesday sitting alongside newly-appointed chief coach Duncan Fletcher.

"I am really honoured to be leading the side. I am happy with the side as we have some very good batsmen in Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, S Badrinath, Shikhar Dhawan all of whom have done well in first-class cricket.

"Badrinath especially has done well in first-class cricket and deserves to be in the team. I hope we will do well in the West Indies," said Raina.

Raina and the young team is expected to be under a bit of pressure with Harbhajan Singh the only senior player in the side.

But the skipper said the players have got used to playing under pressure.

"There's always pressure and we have done well under pressure. We have done well over the last three years and have won the World Cup. It's for us as players to execute the plans of the coach well. We have to play our natural game," he said.

Raina agreed that it was a new milestone for him to lead a World Champion team in the West Indies. "It is a new turning point for me. But it is for the coach to give us ideas and on our part we will have to ensure that we implement them on the field. We will have to execute our plans well. It is important for us to do well in the West Indies and the good thing is that there are a lot of youngsters who are very keen. I am really happy with the team."

About his own captaincy, Raina said he had learnt a lot from his earlier captains and will look to use that experience. "We went to the West Indies under (Rahul) Dravid for Tests in 2006 and again for the World Cup 2007. I have also learnt a lot from Kumble and Dhoni. I would want the team to stay positive, stay focused and gel."

On the absence of Chris Gayle in the West Indies squad for the T20 and the first two ODIs, Raina quipped, "He could be back after the first two ODIs, but we are ready for the challenge. We have been playing Tests, ODIs and T20s, but it is important for the players to keep up the intensity. It'll be a challenge and the boys are excited."

The young team should benefit from the veteran coach Fletcher, who expects the youngsters to graduate to a new level. "It's an ideal opportunity for these youngsters, sometimes it is better that they play international cricket before you blood them in Test cricket. It is an honour for me to work with them, I am excited about my new job and I think we should do well."

His best advice to the wards was to keep their heads on their young shoulders. "We shouldn't get complacent. The West Indies have got some very exciting players and we should be aware of that," reminded Fletcher.

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