It's going back to where it all started. South African explorer Mike Horn was with the Indian players as a motivator for a few days in Bangalore before the team left for the opening match in Bangladesh. With the business end of the World Cup fast approaching, he has resurfaced.
Clad in the red training T-shirt of the Indian team, Horn was the third man to enter the ground after the home team turned up for practice late on Sunday afternoon, behind physical trainer Ramji Srinivasan and conditioning coach Paddy Upton.
The 44-year-old’s first association with the Indian team, on the recommendation of coach Gary Kirsten, was during the home series against South Africa last year.
The team sought his services again before this World Cup and following positive feedbacks from the players, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to have him till the end of the team's campaign, with a maximum of two matches to go.
“He will have group and individual sessions with the players in the evenings,” a senior member of the team management told HT. “The idea behind having him is to keep the players motivated, so that they stay in the best possible frame of mind before the next set of challenges. The players have obviously benefited from what Horn has to offer,” he said.
From what was seen on Sunday at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, it seemed Horn enjoys participating in team activities. He took part in the football and volleyball sessions the players had. In between, he positioned himself close to the players when some of them did mild knocking, fielding and passing the ball back to those throwing the balls to the batsmen.
Sachin’s new bats
The other highlight of the Indian team's training was Sachin Tendulkar trying out two new bats. He did a bit of knocking after the rest had started playing football. And before joining them, Tendulkar asked the team’s yoga trainer Manoj Kumar to continuously hit balls with the bats. After Kumar got tired, video analyst Dhananjay took up the process.
Tendulkar came back to check the bats after playing football and did some more hitting himself, presumably to make the sweet spots of the bats match ready.
It’s not clear whether he will use any of them on Wednesday, but after he was done with the hitting, he held the bats for a considerable time, swinging them gently to get a feel of the weight and balance.