Coach Gary Kirsten and skipper MS Dhoni engage in a game of football during India’s practice session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.
After a few days of fun and relaxation, the Indians are looking serious. They were out in full strength for the first time since losing to South Africa, in Nagpur on Saturday, sweating it out at the MA Chidambaram Stadium ahead of Sunday's match against the West Indies.
If inconsistency has been a feature of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men in this World Cup, they have been consistent in one aspect. For the umpteenth time, they paid little respect to the schedule and arrived for practice one hour after they were supposed to.
After spending half-an-hour in the dressing room, proceedings started with a round of football followed by some catching practice. Virender Sehwag was not seen during this period and it was learnt that he was under the observation of physio Nitin Patel for what appears to be a problem in the right knee, caused by accumulation of fluid.
Instead, he had a long knocking session against throw-downs by mental and physical conditioning coach Paddy Upton.
Nobody from the team was available for an official comment on his fitness, but the slight limp was unmistakable from the way Sehwag was moving.
It’s astounding to see how serious Sachin Tendulkar can be when it comes to making most of the practice sessions. His hunger for runs is insatiable and only the practice sessions show how the ageless genius keeps himself ready.
He was a little late in arriving for practice but made up for the time lost by working overtime.
He batted against pace and spin and looking dissatisfied with what he had done, opted for a prolonged period of knocking. Not many were around to throw balls at him and it was Virat Kohli who seemed to have understood what the master wanted.
Tendulkar looked intent on brushing up his off-side play as he first started driving down the cover region with the ball pitched just outside off-stump and then got the line straighter to concentrate on driving the ball towards an imaginary mid-off. The commitment under a testing sun was exemplary.
They were there at the ground and took part in the warm-up drills, but Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj Singh didn’t take part in the activities when bowling and batting sessions began at the nets.
Not that anything was wrong with them, it was learnt that they had an off day.