Bubble banter and Rohit injury scare as India head into quarantine
- India players who were not part of the Mumbai Test against New Zealand had a final training session in Mumbai before entering the bio-bubble for the South Africa cricket tour
In their last training opportunity before heading into hotel quarantine, a lot of the banter on the sidelines of a net session involved players ribbing each other on how they would spend the last few hours before bubble life resumed.
New Test vice-captain Rohit Sharma, the man he replaced in the post Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Shardul Thakur were hard at work on Sunday afternoon at the Sharad Pawar Academy nets adjacent to the ground where Andhra’s KS Bharat was smashing the Himachal Pradesh bowlers all around the park in a Vijay Hazare Trophy tie.
The Virat Kohli-led Indian team joined the team bubble for the South Africa tour in the evening. They will head to Johannesburg on a chartered flight on December 16 for the six-match (3 Tests, 3 ODI) tour. With the spread of the Covid variant Omicron severe in the African continent, the players know another tour within a strict bubble life awaits them.
Rahane, short of runs and battling to keep his place, hasn't missed a single practice opportunity after sitting out of the Mumbai Test against New Zealand due to a hamstring niggle. He had another extended batting net, his third in the week, facing the team’s three throw-down experts, as bowling coach Paras Mhambrey looked on. Peeling off and fixing the strap of his gloves again, a batting trigger synonymous with Rahane, he would focus on getting his footwork right against good length deliveries.
ROHIT’S NET SESSION CUT SHORT
Around 45 minutes into Rahane’s batting net, Sharma arrived. Soft quarantine having begun and no net bowlers at their disposal, both batsmen took turns to face an over each against the three throwdown experts. Raghavendra, 'Raghu' to the team, is the seniormost and one of the best throwdown exponents on the circuit. He cut short Sharma’s net with a rising delivery that seemed to strike the batter hard on his gloves. He winced in pain, and after a few nervous moments, Sharma was in good spirits. He obliged a sparse crowd that had assembled across the iron railings of the ground with socially distanced selfies.
Raghu's deliveries can be skiddier than any deceptive fast bowler. Rahane knows all about it, having broken his finger facing the diminutive throwdown expert on eve of the Mumbai Test match against England in 2016.
Before lounging through the rest of the training day, with the bat in hand Sharma looked in charge. He swivel-pulled anything short, keeping the ground staff busy retrieving the balls.
Pant did his warm-ups but did not bat, not feeling hundred percent on his hamstring and calf muscles. It appeared to be one of the gym training niggles and that kept him on the massage table for quite some time.
The recently married Thakur came in later and had a long bowling net, sharing the work with the throwdown experts. With Rahane, Sharma and Pant finished, KL Rahul, who was the last to arrive, faced Thakur for a long time. Thakur did not miss out on a batting session to finish the day. With Ravindra Jadeja injured and out of the series, starting on December 26, the Mumbai all-rounder could well be summoned again in the Tests to help provide balance to the eleven.
India, yet to win a Test series in South Africa, will begin with the Boxing Day Test at Centurion.