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Dhoni gets wish for good practice strips

cricket Updated: Aug 16, 2010 00:07 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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The moment there was a cloudburst in the middle of Sri Lanka's practice session, the Indian cricketers, who were getting ready to leave for the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, knew that their opportunity to practice on the wicket adjacent to the one that would be used in Monday's match had vanished.

This meant that, if the skies cleared and allowed the team to have some training on the eve of their must-win tie against Sri Lanka, it would have to be at the practice facility. Yes, the same facility where the Indian cricketers were forced to practice on mediocre wickets for the last three days and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked off in disgust on Saturday.

Naturally, when both the skippers interacted with the media at the team hotel even before the rain had stopped, the practice wickets issue was bound to be raised.

"It is always better to get practice before the match," Dhoni said, sporting the tri-colour on his jersey on the occasion of Independence Day. "As far as the wicket is concerned, the players who went for practice during the last three days were not really happy with the kind of wicket that was provided. “So we are just hoping that the weather clears today and we get some time to practice. And hopefully the wickets will be good."

Soon after, both of Dhoni's wishes came true. Not only did the rain stop, but even the practice wickets behaved a lot better.

During the hour-long batting stint, which was dominated by Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina at the crease, there was no awkward bounce.

Naturally, all the Indian batsmen were satisfied with the practice wickets, which, according to Dhoni "were very damp and there was lush green grass on the wicket" over the last three days.

While Ashish Nehra's bowling in the nets raised hopes of him being available for the vital tie, Dinesh Karthik, who was hit while batting in the nets on Sunday, preferred to rest "just as a precaution."