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Batsmen go through strenuous work-out

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 16:58 IST
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India's beleaguered batting stars on Sunday went through a vigorous net session under the watchful eyes of coach Greg Chappell as they tried to sort out their shortcomings and find form ahead of the first Test starting on Friday.

The bowlers, who had been saving grace on the tour, had been given a well-deserved break as a reward for their match-winning performance in the warm up game while the batters were asked to work on their weakness against the moving ball on the unscheduled holiday.

Captain Rahul Dravid, eager to hasten his return to the batting crease, tested himself out against a bowling machine with real-time speed and then had his Karnataka teammate Anil Kumble bowl to him in the middle of Sedgars Park.

The bigger issue of Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer then got the attention as opening, by common consensus, has been the biggest worry on this tour.

Sehwag toyed with a couple of net bowlers for a while before Sachin Tendulkar sought him out, bowling teasing seam-up deliveries from a short run-up which on more than one occasion had the Delhi dasher flummoxed.

Tendulkar himself has been under weather on this tour and one of his prime failing has been against deliveries coming into him sharply.

Getting out bowled and leg before wicket has been a common issue with him and it was now Sehwag's turn to probe into his problems.

Jaffer, the opener who faces the most heat in selection of the team for the first Test, tried out some startling remedial measures and was grateful for Chappell to view his methods minutely.

Gautam Gambhir, the third opener, bowled at him on the cemented floor with two types of plastic balls - one heavy and one light, intended to provide practice to the batsman against swinging deliveries.

Chappell went away, saying words of encouragement to Jaffer.

Jaffer has had a miserable tour but it might be unjust to drop the Mumbai opener who has been sterling in his two Test series against England and West Indies, and ought not to be judged on his form in the one-dayers where, at best, he was just an experiment.

Gambhir took advantage of the short session and his eagerness in the last few days suggest the Delhi opener is more than keen to be ready for his big moment.

Dinesh Kaarthick, one of the positives to have emerged from the one-dayers, also took hit in the nets.

The team leaves for Johannesburg on Monday morning and would find a welcome addition to their party waiting for them - Dilip Vengsarkar, chairman of selection committee who arrives from India on Monday.

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