The lull before the storm
There is an unmistakable hint of lull in the way the Indians are going about their job at the moment. After two days of complete rest, just eight of the 15 squad members turned up for practice at the National Cricket Academy on Wednesday morning; and spent less than two hours there.
The team management said it was an optional session. Still, given that things have to improve in the bowling department, at least the bowlers were expected to show up. But Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh chose to stay away.
Of the batsmen who gave the nets a skip were Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. While Sehwag was scheduled to return from New Delhi after consulting a personal physician on his rib injury, the other three opted for an additional third day of rest.
Focus on Nehra
Among those present, the focus was very much on Ashish Nehra, who missed the first two matches due to a back injury. Before warming up, Nehra got his problem area tended to by team physiotherapist Nitin Patel and then had a brief chat with bowling coach Eric Simmons. The left-armer then had a short but full blast of bowling at the nets.
With Sreesanth cutting a sorry figure in the first match and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla too going for plenty in the tied match against England on Sunday, Nehra is a key figure for India if the team management decides to field three medium-pacers.
"He's been well and bowling. There are three more days to go (before Sunday's match against Ireland). Let's see how it goes," said coach Gary Kirsten.
Gap between matches
In a tournament spread over 43 days, there are long gaps between matches. India waited for a week before playing their second game, would have waited for six more days before the third and for another week before the sixth and final league outing.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said before the tournament that these breaks could help players recover from injuries.
Former India paceman Roger Binny, however, had a different take on it.
"The momentum might suffer and the players might get lethargic with so many days between games. For example, Sachin is in such good nick but has to wait for a long time before getting another hit out in the middle," said the member of India's 1983 World Cup-winning team.
To make this wait worthwhile, Indian players are finding their own ways of killing time.
Dashing middle-order batsman Yusuf Pathan visited a pet shop here on Tuesday to check out some exotic parrots; but plans of some other players to visit a temple on Wednesday had to be aborted, reportedly because of security issues.