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Raina stakes his claim for first Test with ton

Taunton/London, Jul 17 (IANS)
Published on 18 Jul. 2011 1:27 AM IST
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India’s Suresh Raina staked his claim for the first Test against England with a brilliant counter-attacking century against Somerset on the third day of the tour match here Sunday. Raina raced to an unbeaten 103 on the third morning to save India from embarrassment. India were reeling at overnight 138/8, chasing Somerset’s first innings score of 425, with Raina (30) and S.Sreesanth (0) at crease.
After Sreesanth’s (1) fall Sunday, Raina added 84 for the final wicket in 12 overs with Munaf Patel who contributed 6, taking India’s score to 224. Somerset decided to bat again rather than enforce the follow-on.
Raina needed just 37 balls to go from his fifty to hundred. He struck 14 fours and five sixes, hitting the bowlers all over the County Ground. He reached his century off 110 balls.
With this innings, Raina would hope to seal his place in the team as the No.6 batsman, ahead of flamboyant Yuvraj Singh, for the first Test at Lord’s starting Thursday.
Yuvraj, the man-of-the-series in World Cup, was out for a duck on the second morning. He did not play in the series against West Indies due to a lung infection.

Somerset teen’s maiden first-class wicket is Tendulkar
The crowd at the County Ground was aghast. Sachin Tendulkar, playing in the tour match against Somerset, was dismissed for 26 by Craig Meschede, a 19-year-old all-rounder who had never before taken a first-class wicket.
“Before this match, he had only bowled 24 balls for Somerset’s first XI with a red ball, The Guardian reported.
Tendulkar attempted to drive Meschede’s 28th first-class delivery and feathered a catch to Jos Buttler behind the stumps.
“A few miles down the road at King’s College, where the old Somerset stalwart Dennis Breakwell coaches, there would have been celebrations as well. A couple of years ago Buttler and South African-born Meschede were playing for their school team.”
Meschede, who bowls bustling medium pace, has previously raised more eyebrows as a hard-hitting middle-order batsman. India, chasing Somerset’s 425, were struggling at 89/5 when Tendulkar was dismissed.
“At least Tendulkar had looked as if his mind was on the job, unlike some of his colleagues. Moreover, his mere presence had been enough to satisfy most onlookers, who recognise that he may not pass this way again. Like Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, who both failed miserably, Tendulkar had not been to the middle since the IPL’s conclusion in May.”

Dhoni’s record as India’s captain remarkable: Atherton
Former England captain Michael Atherton is moved by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership qualities.
Atherton in his column in The Times said the “defining cricketing image of the year has to be the moment Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped out of his crease and finished the World Cup with the crispest, cleanest straight drive imaginable. It was the stroke of a man utterly confident in his judgment, as he had been, or at least given the appearance of being, throughout a tournament in which his team and his leadership had been scrutinised by the expectations of a billion people.”
Atherton said the entire innings summed up Dhoni’s character. “There was an element of risk-taking in the beginning (he had been short of runs during the tournament), a sense of style in the denouement, but most of all a ruthlessness to finish the job,” he said.
The former England captain said Dhoni’s record speaks a lot for his leadership skills. “Dhoni’s record as captain of India, and as captain of the Chennai Super Kings, is remarkable and it marks him out as a leader of surprising and substantial talents. He has led India to the top of the world Test rankings, to the World Cup and inaugural World Twenty20, as well as leading CSK to two Indian Premier League titles and a Champions League crown.

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