Suresh Raina, on Saturday (February 24), said he had worked "really hard" and was always thinking about his comeback into the Indian team after being snubbed by the selectors for the most part of 2017 cricket season.
The left-handed batsman credited his wife Priyanka Choudhary and two-year-old daughter Gracia for helping him "believe" he could wear the Indian jersey again.
Raina's comments come after he came up with a match-winning all-round performance in the T20I series decider against South Africa on Saturday. In captain Virat Kohli's absence, the 31-year-old led the team from the front, scoring a 27-ball 43 to help India post a winning total of 172 on a slow Newlands Cricket Ground track in Cape Town.
The Uttar Pradesh batsman did not look like someone who had been out of the national senior team for more than a year as he made batting look easy throughout the three-match T20I series, which India won 2-1.
"I worked really hard for two years. Each and every session, I was doing in the gym, on the field, I was just (thinking) when I am going to play for India again. I think God helped. Thanks to my wife, my kid to make me believe I can go there and wear the jersey again," Raina told reporters at the post-match press conference on Saturday.
"That's what I think the Indian team does. When you make a lot of sacrifices in your life and at the same time you enjoy your game, (it works out). I worked really hard on my game and my mental toughness," he added.
Raina targets ODI comeback
Raina, who has not played ODIs since India's 3-2 defeat at home to South Africa, was dropped from the T20I team for India's tour of Sri Lanka in September 2017. He was not part of the team for the subsequent limited-overs assignments against New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka at home.
Notably, he had hit a match-winning 63 against England in February that year before surprisingly facing the axe. He also scored 442 runs at 40.18 for the now-defunct Gujarat Lions in the 10th season of Indian Premier League (IPL).
It was reported that Raina had failed the yo-yo fitness test, which has become a prerequisite for selection in the Indian team. However, he crossed the hurdle at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru in December 2017. A good run in the recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy (314 runs from nine matches) paved way for his return to the T20I side.
With the backing of captain Kohli, Raina is now confident of making a comeback into the ODI side. The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) star can be India's solution to middle order woes in the 50-over format and thus a lot of eyes will be on him during the upcoming IPL season, starting April 7 in Mumbai.
"Just a matter of a couple of games there, I can assure you that I am going to be there very soon. It is very important for me. From here we play in Sri Lanka and then we have IPL also coming up," Raina said.
"I was part of the World Cup before. I won the WC in 2011 and played first World Cup that I played, I've got the trophy in my house, that's an unbelievable feeling. Coming back to one-day spot, I think I've done well at No. 5."