Indian cricket coach Duncan Fletcher gives tips to Suresh Raina (R) in the nets during a training session at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
A young fan in a white T and faded denim was waving to the Indian team as players boarded the bus after their training session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on Thursday afternoon. "It's a start of good things to come," was written on her shirt.
How apt. What should have been revenge spread over 12 days is now a start not just to a series of five one-dayers but also of revival and redemption.
Revival for the World Cup winning team who will play their first match at home since that night of euphoria in Mumbai, coming off a two-and-a-half month-long humiliation in all forms of the game in England. A new beginning for a new-look India side without the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan, all out injured, and the prolific Harbhajan Singh dropped for lack of form.
Redemption of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's image as the skipper with the Midas touch --- going to England he had led India to the ODI World Cup victory after a gap of 28 years and taken the team to the top of the Test rankings. And Chennai Super Kings were the defending Indian Premier League and Champions League champions under his captaincy.
Going into the 5-match one-day series against England that begins here on Friday, Dhoni has lost half of that. India are no more the top Test team after a 0-4 drubbing in England and CSK failed to defend Champions League.
Even the glovework of Captain Cool has taken a plunge. He will have to push all that away and lead from behind the wickets and with the willow, if required pushing himself up the order to take control as he did in the World Cup final.
For India, the selection issues could boil down to playing all three of Ajinkya Rahane, who had a short stint with the bat on Thursday, Parthiv Patel and Gautam Gambhir or leave out one and include Manoj Tiwary to strengthen the middle-order.
Tiwary had long sessions with the bat on both days. The other debate could be over playing left-arm seamer S Aravind. Going by Dhoni's fascination for one, the RCB bowler could get the nod along with Praveen Kumar and Umesh Yadav.
On the other side is another young squad who are on a high since faltering in the World Cup. Over two series back home, England have won seven of the 10 one-dayers played and that too against the World Cup finalists, India and Sri Lanka. Everything seems to have gone right for coach Andy Flower.
They have the ICC Test Mace in their locker and going into Friday's opener their sole headache is a problem of plenty when sitting down to choose their 11. Except for Kevin Pietersen, who failed in the two warm-up matches here, there have been solid performances from everyone.