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India warm up for big game

cricket Updated: Mar 18, 2011 02:19 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

After three days of total relaxation and a day of light training, the Indians on Thursday looked like as if they meant a bit of business. Braving a hot afternoon sun, they slogged it out, at the IIT campus here.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni wasn't there, down with a bout of cold. Neither was Virender Sehwag, who is reportedly nursing a knee injury. The remaining 13 were there to the delight of about 1,000 who braved the heat to watch and cheer their stars.

The Indian players kept the fans waiting for a while though. They settled into the dressing room for about half-an-hour before reappearing in the middle, amid thunderous cheers from the crowd. Coming out of the shelter, each one of them was greeted with loud applause.

Raina to the fore
There were just two nets for batting and bowling, and in the absence of Sehwag it was not surprising to see Gautam Gambhir walk into one of them with Virat Kohli. Sachin Tendulkar didn't go to the middle at all, engaging himself for some knocking on a pitch adjacent to the dressing room.

What caught the attention for the second straight day, however, was Suresh Raina's
promotion into the middle ahead of Yusuf Pathan. After Gambhir and Kohli were done, it was the Uttar Pradesh left-hander with Yuvraj Singh. The two spent a considerable amount of time out there, facing both pace and spin.

Sachin runs & runs
Tendulkar looked serious in whatever he was doing though. After the regulation knocking, he was seen spending a lot of time running between wickets. Blocking the ball close to the body and playing it square off the wicket with soft hands, the oldest statesman of Indian cricket was sprinting down the track and coming back for the imaginary second run. The effort he was putting in was remarkable.

Divine intervention
Chairman of the selection committee, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, was present out there with Test opener Murali Vijay and former India wicketkeeper Bharath Reddy. The Indian team was even given some prasad (offering) from a local temple. With some serious business pending from now on, seeking the help of the almighty didn't look out of place.