The Indian team's first official training session before the World Cup started late as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men were behind schedule in reaching the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday. And when they did arrive, it was a session of football that they got involved in.
Cricket happened in a short net session, but it was abrupt. Low-key build-up to the World Cup it was, in the true sense of the word.
A group of fans had also gathered to watch the proceedings. Among them were youngsters Ashwin and Indrajeet, who waited eagerly outside the nets. They had come to catch a glimpse of their heroes, also hoping that they would be obliged with autographs. But a few hours wait, with pen and pad in hand, turned out to be futile as the cricketers showed no signs venturing towards their fans.
Probably is was the overflow of followers that prompted the stars to stay away from getting up and close with fans, who ultimately had to return home disheartened.
Rolling the ball
It was a game of football to begin with. But they played hard. The intensity of the exercise was unmistakable. Ashish Nehra was keeping goals and Virat Kohli kept him busy. The bowler was peppered with shots, left, right and centre. He yielded after a point, conceding a goal. A powerful right-footer from Kohli it was. That was about it, as far as testing playing skills were concerned, at least for the day.
They hardly played cricket on this warm day in Bangalore. When the football fun ended, there was some time at the nets. Coach Gary Kirsten was back at his familiar self, hurling balls at the batsmen, Virender Sehwag to begin with.
Sehwag hit some, missed a few and edged a good deal. Kirsten must be telling himself that his principal opener gets his act right when the business starts.
There was Gautam Gambhir, Kohli and Yusuf Pathan trying out their tricks at the nets. Some were hitting it mightily well; some were not. It was time to fine-tune skills, though not a time to be decisive.
Sachin Tendulkar took part in the customary game of football before leaving the turf and going in for what was thought to be a fitness trial. There was no news of his well-being but unconfirmed sources said there was no worry about his condition. It was just a regulation check on him, not an examination.
The rest of the session went off well. The team looked happy, joyful and at ease with each other. The customary banter was there for all to see and even though it was a tepid start to this crucial World Cup campaign in terms of intensity in practice, it was a start well made.
Coming off a break, they could be excused for that after all.