The teams, which arrived here on Saturday evening from Motera, woke up to a cold but surprisingly sunny Sunday. Harbhajan Singh was his effervescent self, playing pranks, tossing peanuts and daring team-mates to catch them.
Ishant Sharma was all game, latching on to the ‘catches’ with remarkable ease, while Zaheer Khan and the others kept themselves busy with a game of football. While S. Sreesanth and VVS Laxman manned the goalposts, MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh combined to breach the defences of Rahul Dravid and his men, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag included.
After fifteen minutes of action, most of which was spent on controlling the ball, the Indians got down to real business.
Dhoni and Sehwag threw caution to the wind, hitting big shots, while Tendulkar honed his forward defensive stroke and back-foot punches against deliveries hurled by Gary Kirsten in a baseball-like manner.
At intervals, he discussed the nuances with the coach even as Dhoni sent the local bowlers on a leather-hunt with his heaves and straight drives.
Sehwag, meanwhile, clattered the India bowlers — Ishant, Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha with intent. He clipped them off his toes, dispatched cover drives to the boundary and even played inside out for big hits. Gambhir, after his match-saving vigil two days ago, freed his levers to go into the overdrive.
The manual scoreboard displaying India’s XI, had one change from Ahmedabad. Sreesanth was there instead of Mishra and the bowler from Kerala hogged the limelight. Running in at full throttle, the medium pacer was impressive, hurrying Dravid onto the back-foot and forcing the veteran to leave a few deliveries at the last moment.
He looked good and pitched consistently around the good length spot. But Mishra seemed a bit out of sorts — or, perhaps, he was relaxing his tired limbs. He was negotiated easily, swept comfortably, even slammed a few times by Dravid and Laxman.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka opener Tillakaratne Dilshan has a fractured nose but he might be fit for the second Test, which begins on Tuesday. However, seamer Dhammika Prasad is still a big worry for the visitors as he struggles to get into peak shape.
Going by the way Ajantha Mendis and Dilhara Fernando toiled all Sunday afternoon, the visitors might include them in the playing XI.
Fernando bowled at maximum space, while Mendis, who was ignored for the first Test, bowled alongside Muttiah Muralitharan.