St Lucia:After scoring a match-winning 60-ball 101, Suresh Raina on Sunday credited his growth as a reliable batsman to a disciplined regime and inspiring atmosphere in the dressing room.
Riding on Raina's knock, India posted a huge 186 for five and beat South Africa by 14 runs to qualify for Super Eight stage of the World T20.
"Fleming, Mahi (Dhoni) and Hayden supported me a lot during the IPL. Likewise, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid always backed me in the national team. It is very important for me to fulfill my potential and repay their faith in me," Raina said after the match.
"Watching Kumble, Rahul, Sachin, Laxman in the dressing room, I noticed they were so humble even after they have performed so consistently. They keep their process very simple. I too have have led a very disciplined life as I grew up in a hostel. I want to emulate my seniors. There is so much to learn from their humility," he added.
He was happy with his form and want to carry on the good work in the knock-out stage.
"Through the grace of God it has been a good year for me. I am happy that I scored a hundred and helped the team win. But it is very important to play really well in the super league. I am very positive person. I will look to perform well in every game here on. I want to continue performing to ensure that we win the T20 World Cup," he said.
Though India were in trouble at 32 for two after six overs, Raina held his poise to play one of the best innings in the T20 format.
"I made sure that I played till the end. I did not think of hitting early, but concentrated on hitting the loose balls. I was very confident because I had had very good practice session. I knew that if I play 40 to 50 balls, I could score 80 to 90 runs which is what I was doing in the IPL," he said.
He said he was comfortable batting at number three position.
"I have been batting at the slot even in the ODIs. Before the World Cup Mahi told me that I will be batting at number 3 and wanted to continue with my form from the IPL. So I was mentally prepared for the task.
"Batting up the order doesn't mean that you to don't go about whacking every ball. You have to respect your opponent and have to pick your bowlers you want to attack."
Asked if he had changed his approach to the game, Raina said, "Initially in international cricket I was getting out in the 30s and 40s and not converting them into big scores. I played a lot of domestic cricket the last two years which has helped me. I think it is important to improve in each and every game."
Contrary to aspersions that the IPL had left the players tired, Raina said,"I am just 23 years old. The more matches I play, the better for me. I am young and fit and am looking forward to get more exposure."
He said there was competition in the ranks as there were a lot of talented youngsters in the side.
"There is a lot of competition among the youngsters. Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik and Yusuf Pathan are good players. But our character and mental strength will be tested during this tournament," said Raina.
The Ghaziabad-born swashbuckler said the team that fields well should come out trumps in the world Cup.
"Whichever team does well in fielding will go on to win the title. In that sense, I think there is room for us to improve our fielding."
South African captain Graeme Smith lauded Raina for his match-winning hundred.
"This surface suits his style of batting. He is strong both sides of the wicket. He has a very positive frame of mind and once he gets in, he takes the game to the end. He is player any team would like to have in their side," said Smith, who regretted that his said conceded 75 runs in the last five overs of the Indian innings.