Yuvi trains, Sachin reigns
Yuvraj Singh looked a determined man on Saturday afternoon as the India players converged on Eden Gardens for their first practice session ahead of the second Test against the West Indies starting Monday. Somshuvra Laha reports.cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2011 01:14 IST
Yuvraj Singh looked a determined man on Saturday afternoon as the India players converged on Eden Gardens for their first practice session ahead of the second Test against the West Indies starting Monday.
At the nets, Yuvraj was one of the first to pad up. The Chandigarh batsman was quite fluent in scoring 23 in the first innings at Kotla. In the second, however, he struggled to 18 before being cleaned up by a Darren Sammy delivery that kept low when India needed just one run to win the first Test.
Watching Yuvraj take stance on Saturday, coach Duncan Fletcher took up position behind him, occasionally speaking with Rahul Dravid as he kept a watchful eye on the proceedings. Yuvraj went on to bat for almost 30 minutes, unperturbed by the pacers but looking to play the spinners with more caution.
Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were next, followed by Dravid and VVS Laxman. Sachin Tendulkar, who joined the squad on Saturday morning, took throw-downs outside the nets, keeping fans glued with some crisply timed shots that rocketed across the turf.
Fans at practice
The ticket sales have been poor so far, but a couple of hundred rooted from the stands as India players took part in the first practice session after a two-day break.
Barring spinner R Ashwin, who gets married in Chennai on Sunday, the entire squad was present at the Eden on Saturday. In a week, Fletcher's boys would want to head to Mumbai with the Test and the series in their pocket.
There are added benefits as well. Apart from being the venue where India could register their first Test series win after a horrible tour of England, where they couldn't win a match in any format, Eden Gardens could also become the amphitheatre where Tendulkar finally scores the 100th international century.
VVS Laxman is still very much Eden's darling but on Saturday, the fans reserved their loudest applause for the Little Master. After waving to his fans, Tendulkar took part in a game of football before putting on his batting gear.
Tendulkar could be seen gesturing towards the sightscreen at the clubhouse end while talking to officials of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). The height of the sightscreen is a perennial problem and this time CAB will cover a total of 1397 seats including 340 on the lower tier of the clubhouse.
Dhoni checks pitch
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked up to the pitch laid out for the second Test and took a good look. Compared to the adjacent pitch, where almost a 1000 runs were scored and only 16 wickets fell in the four days of Bengal's Ranji Trophy tie against Gujarat last week, this one has a smattering of grass on it.