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India practise hit & giggle

Just 24 hours after their arrival, the youngsters get into the T20 groove with a net session, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Sep 12, 2007 03:26 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times

The Indian team arrived in South Africa just three days ahead of their World Cup Twenty20 opener. And 24 hours after their arrival, the youngsters got into the T20 groove with a quick net session at the Supersport Park in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.

Whether the practice session helps in getting India used to the format or not, it would certainly have put them in some kind of fast forward mode, given the speed at which they were whisked from place to place.

There was the hour-long drive from Johannesburg to Centurion, a short nets, back to Johannesburg again and then out of the place to the airport - closer to the stadium than their hotel - to catch a flight to Durban, where they will play their group matches on Thursday and Friday.

As expected, the better part of the session was devoted to fielding and running between the wickets. The two coaches, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh, had some interesting drills as they both occupied two wickets with the players running in and picking up and throwing the ball back within no time from two different directions.

Similar drills were observed during the latter part of India's recently concluded seven-match ODI series in England.

The players also put a lot of effort into their other weak link, which could eventually turn out to be the most crucial factor in this brand new tournament - the running between the wickets.

And the exercise was carried out in a match-like situation, again similar to what they did in England, as the batsmen batted in pairs and the fielders came charging in to stop the batsman from making it to their respective ends.

Finally, they had a short stint (regular-type) with the bat and ball before wrapping up the session by having a quick go at the ball with the bat (T20 fashion).

Cricket manager Lalchand Rajput was satisfied with the session. "The basic purpose was to give all the guys a feel of the tournament," he said. "And the purpose was served." More than the net session, it would be interesting to see how the Indian bowlers cope with the free-hit rule. If any bowler oversteps while delivering a ball, the next ball will be given as a free hit. And the bowlers appeared to be discussing the rule keenly.

As skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Monday, their strength is that 12 of the 15 players can both bowl and bat. However, this could also create an interesting problem while deciding the final combination ahead for their opener against Scotland.

First Published: Sep 12, 2007 02:01 IST