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Nets-savvy Indians

After taking a break for two days, the Men in Blue get back into the groove with a gruelling session at the Adelaide Oval, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.
By Atreyo Mukhopadhyay | Hindustan Times, Adelaide
UPDATED ON FEB 15, 2008 01:44 AM IST

After a day of travel and rest, it was time for the Indians to be back at work and there they were at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday. They had a gym session in the morning followed by nets late in the afternoon.

The sun was still strong and the players’ intensity matched the heat. The batsmen were seen arguing with bowlers how many runs their shots would fetch in proper playing conditions and bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad had to intervene at times. It was all in good spirit though, and showed in a way how keen this young bunch is.

The oldest of the lot didn’t come to the nets after warming up and it was learnt that he was fine, just doing some knocking at the indoor facility. Dinesh Karthik had arrived before the rest of the team doing additional batting practice, while Yuvraj Singh too chose to bat a second time.

One of the few players who bats and bowls regularly during practice is Irfan Pathan and he seemed to concentrate on big shots, after being assigned the different role of batting up front in the Tests. His role as a bowler has changed too, and after getting the new ball in the longer version, he has been bowling first change in the one-dayers.

“I haven’t asked why, I never do, but I guess the team wants me to bowl a lot of slower balls in the middle overs. Maybe I have to bowl a few cutters because the ball will get old. But I am happy to be bowling for India, first change or second change doesn’t matter. It’s different from what I usually do, but I’m happy as long as the team is happy.”

The Indian team got a four-day break before its third match and the gap between the fourth and fifth matches is similar. Asked whether long intervals affected his rhythm or helped in some way, Pathan said there was no problem. “You lose strength after playing a match. We can do some muscle training in this gap, so it helps in that sense.”

The player whose career seems to have taken a sharp turn towards the better after his stellar show in the Perth Test, said the team wasn’t disappointed with the Tuesday’s defeat against Sri Lanka. A win there would have helped them finish Round 2 as toppers.

“Losing is always upsetting but we are not demoralised in any way. It was a truncated game and things could have been different had we got even 29 overs, as was decided before the start. Nobody in the team is feeling low, we are upbeat and gelling well as a team.”

And aptly as a member of a team that is trying to play and talk aggressively, Pathan said the gap between India and Australia is getting narrower. “They have obviously lost strength after losing a few players, whereas we have pushed our game a notch higher. We are closer to them now and the win against them (in Melbourne) shows that.”

Having landed here before the Test series as a lot that believed in playing tough without paying much attention to talking, this Indian team has undergone some transformation in the few weeks that they have been here. Maybe it’s a result of the change of personnel in key positions, starting from the top.

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