The need for focus seemed to have been drilled into them, and the intent was evident among the India pacers in the first one-dayer against Sri Lanka. The big challenge is the World Cup, and the preceding Australia series.
In Cuttack, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron hit the deck hard bowling with the new balls. They were fast, each one trying to bowl faster than the other. Aaron clocked 152.1 kph once and consistently bowled over the 140 kph mark. They made the ball dart around, leaving the Sri Lanka batsmen confounded as they chased a huge target. Ishant Sharma provided the able foil, picking four wickets after coming on first change. Yadav scalped the first two wickets while Aaron was unlucky not to get any.
The rhythm was disrupted when Aaron was forced off the field following a leg injury, having just started his fifth over. It was not the first time he was breaking down, but the timing is a cause of concern as the 25-year-old has been ruled out of the remainder of the series. A paceman was injured in the curtailed India-West Indies series too with Mohit Sharma suffering shin trouble.
With the pacers required to play a pivotal role in Australia and New Zealand next year, serious injury to any of them could affect the team's plans. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami - he too is currently injured - are the spearheads, but competition will be intense for the other spots and it is only natural they go all out. However, it also calls for some caution.
"The fast bowlers should focus on their recovery process after every match depending on their workload. Given that they will have a hectic schedule over the next few months, they should plan their fitness around it," said Ramji Srinivasan, former India trainer. "After every game they will need deep tissue massages, swimming exercises. This prevents blood pooling and washes away the lactates in the body."
Srinivasan's work was crucial when India won the World Cup in 2011. "Well ahead of the Cup, the coaching staff led by Gary Kirsten planned the fitness schedule of all players who were in reckoning."
Yadav, Ishant and Aaron have all had their share of injuries. But at this stage, it would be a blow for Aaron, having only made a comeback earlier this year after a back injury.
"I am sure they are being monitored right. At this stage every minute detail, even breathing pattern, will be looked into," said Srinivasan. "As soon as the Sri Lanka ODIs get over, they have to work keeping in mind conditions in Australia. The grass is softer there which puts more pressure on the hamstrings and hips."