The Legends League Cricket (LLC) Masters has almost reached its climax. India Maharajas have come close to winning twice, and once they have shown what they are capable of. But after the loss to the World Giants on March 15, 2023, it is the last chance for the Maharajas to seal their place in the final as they prepare to square off against the Asia Lions in the eliminator match on Saturday, at the Asian Town Cricket Stadium, Doha.
Maharajas have a cricketer who is often regarded as one of the greatest T20 format players - Suresh Raina.
He spoke about the tournament, his performance, and a number of areas which surround Indian cricket.
Speaking about the performance in the match against the World Giants, Suresh Raina said, "I think we didn't bowl well in the powerplay, but we came back really strong later. Probably, I would say we could have scored a little more, I would say we were 15-20 runs short. The wicket was pretty slow, and it was very challenging for the batters to rotate the strike. I think we need to step up in the next game. Now we are in a do-or-die situation. How we make a comeback is going to be pretty exciting."
Commenting on the novelty factor associated with the LLC Masters, Raina said, "The kind of hospitality that we have received from LLC is amazing. We are all having fun. We are playing cricket with our old friends and teammates, those with whom we have won the World Cup, played ODIs, test matches, and even the IPL; in a way, we are playing with all the legends. It all brings back memories of when we were playing together, and everyone is enjoying themselves. The whole purpose of the LLC Masters is to spend as much time as possible playing together and entertaining the crowds."
Raina also talked about his fitness and gave his own tips on how youngsters can keep going at it. He added, "It's all about your commitment, belief, and passion, and how you enjoy it. We have played the same way so far, and let's see for how many years we can continue playing. I think it's all about how much you enjoy playing the game. If you enjoy the process, it will keep you going."
On being asked about his close friend and former India captain, MS Dhoni, and whether this will be his final domestic T20 season, Raina didn't hesitate to answer. He said, "I strongly believe that he will play at least another season. He is looking strong and batting really well. With people like Jadeja, Ben Stokes, Ruturaj, Devon Conway, and even Chahar, who will make a comeback from his injury, I would say that playing at home will be really interesting. A couple of players have already played there, and Rayudu is also batting really well. I want to wish him luck and hope they do well."
He also spoke about India's entry into the World Test Championship final and the chances for the team, saying, "Look at Virat Kohli; he has just scored a hundred. We were talking about turning tracks, and we saw how well they can play on any track. I would say, Virat, Rohit, and Shubham Gill -- he just got one opportunity and he scored a hundred. I think the WTC Final is going to be really interesting this time. We have good top-five batters who know how to score runs and Rohit is leading the team brilliantly and scored a brilliant hundred on a turning track. I was also very impressed with KS Bharat, he kept well on a turning track, where it was really difficult. Ishan Kishan is also there. I am very sure that planning is already on about how can we give rest to these players in between IPL and also ensure that they are in prime condition. If we win the WTC final, it will surely be a morale booster for the 50-over World Cup later in the year."
Finally, Raina spoke about what it means to be a big-match player, especially in major ICC tournaments. He said, "In a big match, either your top-five batters or top-five bowlers should step up. One of them, for sure, needs to take responsibility. If you remember the World Cup, how Yuvraj played throughout the tournament and in the final, and how Gambhir stepped up, MS wasn't scoring many runs during the whole tournament, but he came to the party in the final," Raina said.
"It is all about your mindset, your hunger, and how you want to perform for your country, and we do have such players. I believe it's just been unfortunate for us that it has been a bit long since a major trophy. I believe the team is already working towards identifying areas for improvement. We have a very strong pipeline of players now; injuries have to be monitored; and if we win this World Cup, we will certainly be in a dominant position in world cricket," he added. (ANI)