St. John’s (Antigua): With just two days to go for the first Test, India were expected to come out in full strength and train in the windy and hot conditions at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here. But a prolonged preparatory camp has enabled them to spread out the workload and opt for an optional practice session on Tuesday with the big guns like Virat Kohli and R Ashwin skipping it.
Not often do Indian teams have such elaborate camping for a tour. But Anil Kumble’s arrival seems to have brought a change in policy. Primary focus now is on playing and winning sessions, a feature that has often eluded the Indian teams on overseas tours.
“We have stressed on batting in sessions. The intention is to start and end a particular session well and consolidate,” said batting coach Sanjay Bangar.
Bangar was happy with the match practice the batsmen have got in the tour matches. “We said (before the tour games) that if you bat two sessions you can retire. In a two day game if you are happy with the way you have batted you are free to come back. In the nets we emphasise on strike rotation. That is why we have them batting in pairs and make sure we are changing every four or five balls and rotating the strike,” he said.
History suggests Indian batsmen have found it difficult to bat out sessions in seaming or bouncy conditions. West Indies pitches, however, pose a confusing question. The pitch at Antigua wore a greenish look. But it was more dead grass, the kind that keeps the wicket from breaking but rarely helps bowlers.
“We are expecting a grass cover but we are also prepared keeping in mind that some of the wickets will slow down as the game progresses. So we have been aware of that and have prepared accordingly,” said Bangar.
So detailed has been India’s preparations that both pacers and batsmen have been given extensive workouts with scruffed balls. The idea is clear --- prepare for any kind of scenario and accept the fact that there will be deliveries that will get the best batsman.
“Generally if a good ball gets you out, it doesn’t matter whether it is from a spinner or a seamer. We need to accept that rather than analyse whether our batsmen got out to spinners or seamers. The quality of the delivery matters. That is something we have discussed,” said Bangar.