New Delhi: Former India batsman VVS Laxman, who always reserved his best for the mighty Australia, feels that Suresh Raina "needs a lot of clarity" as to how he would find a solution against short-pitched bowling.
Raina has been dropped from Indian ODI team for Australia tour but Laxman is confident that this selection setback will make him work even harder. "I think every batsman has an area of concern and Suresh Raina has been struggling with short-pitched delivery for a long time. But I think, it is more about what his gameplan against short ball will be and hopefully he sticks to it,"
Laxman told PTI during an exclusive interaction, here today.
The Hyderabadi stylist believes that no batsman is perfect and it is not Raina alone, who has a technical problem. "We have seen Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have problems for the balls outside the off-stump and (Cheteshwar) Pujara has problems with ball that comes in. Everyone has own issues as no batsman is perfect. So Raina needs to have lot of clarity while facing the short ball.
"But having said that, I believe that Raina is an impact player and a match winner in the shorter format. He is livewire in the field, can play big shots and bowl useful overs. He still has a lot to offer in ODI and T20," Laxman said during the interaction organised by 'Star Sports'.
Laxman then analysed that Raina's problem has been always thinking about the short-ball in his head and not being prepared for the fuller delivery, something a lot of batsmen have trouble when they tour Down Under.
"If you see the way, the position (initial trigger movement) he was getting in, definitely, he is thinking about the short ball. Only in the Chennai ODI against South Africa, he played thinking of fuller delivery. He tried playing down the ground, hit those cover drives. His thought process was very clear and once he does that, no one can stop him," explained Laxman, who has been a pioneer against short-pitched bowling.
The technician par excellence explained as to how he prepared before an Australia tour. "Before going there for the 1999 tour (he scored 167 at SCG), I saw the Pakistan series on TV and felt the bounce was steep. So I decided to practice on concrete wickets with plastic balls.
"Now in Australia, you cannot offer a straight full face of the bat, it has to come down with an angle. If the bat comes down straight, it will fly towards slip or gully. Also the general mistake that a young batsman tends to make is that he will get out to the back of the length delivery. But then, it is the fuller delivery which gets the batsman out," Laxman observed.
He also said that Raina's exclusion will give Manish Pandey and Gurkeerat Singh Mann a chance to stake claim for that slot. "Both have had success in domestic cricket. Gurkeerat was very impressive during that 'A tri-series final' against Australia in Chennai.
He also deserves a chance." Laxman feels that the T20 squad is an indication that selectors are looking at a specific short-term goal of winning the World T20 in India while the ODI squad is an indicator towards the core of the 2019 World Cup and Mahendra Singh Dhoni being a part of that side.
"I definitely see Dhoni playing till 2019 World Cup as he is super-fit and the reason is that I have never seen him miss a match due to an injury. May be, he has had those odd finger injuries here and there. I have no doubt he will be available till 2019 World Cup. I am happy that he has played seven matches in Vijay Hazare Trophy as he must have needed some preparation under his belt."
Terming Ashish Nehra as a match-winner, Laxman said that he is a bowler who can do the tough job for the team. "It is very difficult to bowl in the first few overs of T20s and the two of the last four overs. Ashish has done that job often for India. He is still an asset."
About having Barinder Sran in the ODI team, Laxman said that it is always handy to have a left-armer as the pace attack comprising Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav would be a one dimensional attack.
"Left armers always have an impact because of the angle that they are able to create. With Umesh, Ishant and Shami, you have similar bowlers. If this boy can bowl left-arm over and create an angle, it will be great for India.
"I haven't watched him in action but what Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) and Bhajji told me, they have got high hopes from him.
They feel he has the potential to become like Zaheer Khan. Experience, exposure will help him to become a better bowler." Laxman thinks that the Indian team has got a good chance to beat Australia at their own backyard.
"India has got an excellent chance. They (Australia) look a very unsettled side after retirement of Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc is injured.
If India play to their potential, they will beat Australia," Laxman signed off.