This is where it had begun, the grudge game. Come Sunday, it's going to be a cruncher as far as the finals of the tri-series is concerned and, after two days of money, marketing and relaxation, the Indians were back talking and playing cricket. Friday was the time for the team to shake off some rust and get going with bat and ball again.
They trouped into the Sydney Cricket Ground in the morning at full strength, made their way to the practice nets across the Walk of Honour dedicated to Australia's finest sports stars, and had a long, intense session before the sun came out blazing, having played hide and seek with clouds for some time.
Given that things happen too fast in cricket and faster when it comes to Indian cricketers, memories of the second Test seem to have been pushed back. The way they went about their task, there was no hint of the acrimony taken place here just over a month ago, putting a question mark over the future of this series.
But, ‘let the past be and move on with the game’ has been the mantra for many in the last couple of months and the Indian team seems to be following it to the last syllable. They said they were looking ahead, consigning everything else including the great auction, to the background and focussing on the games lying ahead.
“We are not bothered about what has happened on the IPL front at all. We are concerned about the next few matches and the events of the last few days are not distracting,” said Robin Uthappa, sent out to face the media on Friday. "We are very confident and believe that we are the only team which can give Australia a run for their money."
He was confident that the bowlers would keep doing the good job, before adding that the batsmen too should come good, after having shown some promise.
That is debatable because all good Indian batting efforts in this competition have relied on only one or two players.
They have reason to be confident because winning begets confidence and a win was what they got in the last match. But, they are yet to win two matches in succession and the top order has looked wobbly.
"The big scores are not coming as regularly as we would expect, but it's not that the batsmen are struggling. We have looked good in the middle and most probably, it's just a question of one good outing before we start firing collectively. True that the batsmen have to take more responsibility, but it's not a concern really," said Uthappa.
He admitted there has been "shuffling" going on in search of the right balance. "Hopefully, things will settle down before we reach the finals, provided we make it, and we will get the right combination."
Sri Lanka's defeat on Friday brightened India's chances, so two more games remain for them to get things right. Till then, apprehensions & hopes coexist.