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HindustanTimes Mon,15 Sep 2014
World T20: Ahead of semis, India keep their feet on the ground
Nilankur Das , Hindustan Times
Mirpur, April 02, 2014
First Published: 00:54 IST(2/4/2014)
Last Updated: 08:04 IST(2/4/2014)

India cricketers played only football during Tuesday afternoon's training session, that too barefoot. The official version from the team's media manager Dr RN Baba was: "It was following an instruction from the trainer (Sudarshan)." The unofficial line from one of the players was "their training kits did not come to the ground from the hotel."

Considering it was All Fools' Day and knowing the pranks our cricketers are capable of, it could have been taken with a pinch of salt. But given that India don't have a logistics manager after MA Satish, who is employed by India Cements, left for home following a court order, a faux pas cannot be ruled out.

There are quite a few theories about barefoot training. The advantages are that it's good for the ankles and it gives a good feel of the ball. A mental training coach will tell you that the feel of walking on grass is a stress-buster and as India still have three more days to play their semi-final against South Africa, this was not a bad move.

They had the right ball, not a regular football but one of rubber of the same size and very colourful. So it seemed the team was prepared to play barefoot. When skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked about the reason for playing barefoot he said: "Paisa nahin hain, yaar (we don't have money)."

A bit risky
There is a certain amount of risk associated to playing barefoot though. There could always be something in the ground that can cause a cut or just because players these days are not used to running barefoot, there are chances of twisting the ankle or slipping awkwardly.

Playing football without boots is still very popular in Kolkata, a city home to the Mohun Bagan football club that made history by defeating East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1 in the 1911 IFA Shield final. Nine from Mohun Bagan played barefoot that July afternoon.

SA mean business
South Africa, on the other hand, have hit the ground running. Having played all their World T20 matches in completely different conditions in Chittagong, they have very little time and no practice match to get used to the bounce and turn of the wickets at the Sher-e Bangla National stadium. They will be much relieved as the dew here is unlikely to be as intense as it was in the port city.

"Obviously it was challenging for us," said JP Duminy after their two-hour intense training session. "Two games now we have had to deal with the dew factor. But I guess we were trying to find a way to get around it as there's no need to complain about it or look for excuses.

"I thought we did an exceptional job to defend that total against England. It was a big high for us. We know that we will play predominantly spin against India and like I said, preparations are in order. Pretty happy to be in Dhaka and play in different conditions. You can say it's a bit of relief," the Delhi Daredevils player added.


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