Suresh Raina is pulling out all stops to kill his inner demons by spending a lengthy time at the nets, trying to counter the rising deliveries by facing powerful “tennis serves”.
Practising with wet tennis balls to counter the pace is an age-old concept but the training module adopted by the Indian team for Raina, who nearly batted against tennis serves for 45 minutes, is unique in its own way.
While the ‘Two Tool Theory’ getting throwdowns from a height was introduced by team’s support staff Raghavendra before Pakistan match in Adelaide, the current concept has been introduced by coach Duncan Fletcher to mentally prepare Raina for facing the Aussie quicks Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc.
What caught the attention during Team India’s net session at the adjacent area outside Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) was Raina’s unique practice method which also showed his desperation to end what can at best be termed as ‘bumper problem’.
While one batsman practiced in the net allocated for pacers, one for spinners and other for throwdowns, Raina was at the extreme left net with coach Fletcher in tow with a tennis racquet and a ball in hand.
To everyone’s surprise, Raina batted against Fletcher’s service.
The concept for using a tennis racquet and tennis serve is simple. Because tennis ball is very light in weight and if one uses the conventional throwdown stick (instrument used for leather balls), then it’s difficult to get it zoom off the deck.
While a tennis serve on a grass turf will just kick up thereby ensuring that the batsman gets good practice against short stuff.
Fletcher was seen aiming at Raina’s body as the left-hander was trying to play the hook shot. He connected a few, missed a few and miscued some.
While Fletcher did this for 15 minutes, probably the Zimbabwean felt the need for a more powerful and younger arm, who could impart more power on those tennis serves.
In came skipper Dhoni and in Pistol Pete style started unleashing some booming serves for Raina, who didn’t look comfortable at all.
Once between the session, Dhoni stopped serving and summoned Raina for a mid-pitch discussion.