Party over, boys back to work
The Indian team's six-week break, the longest in recent memory, officially came to an end on Thursday with the start of their four-day conditioning camp at Bangalore. The first step was to assess the fitness levels of the group, matching the results against the review conducted in Delhi and Mumbai two weeks ago.cricket Updated: Aug 28, 2009 00:07 IST
The Indian team's six-week break, the longest in recent memory, officially came to an end on Thursday with the start of their four-day conditioning camp at Bangalore. The first step was to assess the fitness levels of the group, matching the results against the review conducted in Delhi and Mumbai two weeks ago.
“I am very happy with the results today. Based on what we saw two weeks ago, there has been significant improvement from every player, which means they are taking it seriously. That's all we wanted,” said coach Gary Kirsten. “The players have realised that this is a part of the game that they all want to improve.”
With the camp being held in Bangalore, hometown of comeback batsman Rahul Dravid, there was understandably some talk about his return. “It's good to have him back. He will add massive value to this team. He is a natural performer,” said Kirsten while saying that he did not have any special expectations of Dravid.
“My expectation for Rahul would be the same as any other player. I want him to give 100 per cent. I don't need to tell him that, because he does it every time he puts the badge on for team India, whether it's in training or whether it's in match play.”
While the first session of the camp was spent with an eye on conditioning — some players underwent a bleep test, others caught up with Virender Sehwag and the trio of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik and Harbhajan Singh even squeezed in a game of badminton — Kirsten pointed out that the group would shift gears shortly.
“Equally, it's time for us to start upping the intensity on our practicing. We are going to be hitting a lot of balls over the next three-four days, the guys are going to be bowling a lot.”
While Kirsten said he did not expect the conditions in South Africa to be dramatically different from those in Sri Lanka, he did say that, “the time we get in South Africa — to prepare — is going to be very important.”
However, India's coach did not subscribe to the line of thinking that some of the batsmen have serious problems against short-pitched bowling. “I only saw the short-pitched ball being a problem in one game in T20, so I don't see that as a problem,” he said.
“All these individuals, including the young players, have performed exceptionally well in one-day cricket for an extended period of time. We must always look at the long term in these things.”