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India practice indoors as rain looms large ahead of second ODI vs. West Indies

India’s skipper Virat Kohli and other senior pros stepped up to help host an indoor practice session before the second match against the West Indies as light showers left the practice pitches unfit for use.

india vs west indies 2017 Updated: Jun 24, 2017 23:26 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Port of Spain
India vs West Indies,India national cricket team,West Indies cricket team
Virat Kohli conducts an indoor practice session ahead of the second ODI against the West Indies.(HT Photo)

It started to drizzle at the Queen’s Park Oval here on Saturday at about the same time it had on Friday. And on Sunday too there is chance of rain. If anything, it is likely to be heavier, which reduces the chances of a full match taking place.

The rain on Friday has left the practice pitches in bad shape --- surprisingly they have remained uncovered all through these past few days. Skipper Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav had to use the indoor facilities.

Sanjay Bangar, the batting coach, has additional responsibilities on this trip in the absence of a chief coach. Bangar, who has been with the team for around three years, says Anil Kumble’s absence has left a gap but the former India batsman felt to understand the team, you need to spend time with the players.

“We are certainly missing him. But we have to make do with what we have,” Bangar said.

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“It is very difficult to find a prescription for a coach…. But (speaking about himself) you need to spend enough time with the boys to understand them,” said the former Railways captain and all-rounder.

“MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli have stepped up and assumed responsibilities,” he told the media ahead of the second ODI.

That was evident as Virat was in the thick of things, giving throwdowns to batsmen and overseeing the nets.

And although Bangar says both Yuvraj and Dhoni are key in an advisory role, there is a big doubt over their holding the middle-order together till the 2019 World Cup. Not with the way they buckled under pressure in the ICC Champions Trophy final against Pakistan. A little bit of fight in that 180-run loss would have done them a world of good.

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Yuvraj flopped on Saturday too after struggling against leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, and on Saturday he spent plenty of time batting at the nets. MS Dhoni didn’t get a chance to play for long on Friday as his knock was cut short by rain just after he had scored a boundary.

“We have a pool of 25 players to pick from,” he replied when asked if both Dhoni and Yuvraj are being seen as a certainty for World Cup 2019. This series is being seen as one of the testing grounds for the tournament two years later.

“Look, fitness is the main concern. If these guys stay fit, then they definitely stand a chance to play the World Cup,” he said hinting their experience and skills are good enough to see them through.

With wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant breathing down his neck, Dhoni has a task at hand. Experts here feel Pant will not be handed gloves just yet and will be asked to bat if given a chance. He might get a match or two in this series and will most likely get to bat.

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To be fair to the India skipper, he is giving opportunities to players --- Kuldeep Yadav played on Saturday. Ajinkya Rahane got a chance to open. There could be one more new face on Sunday.

First Published: Jun 24, 2017 22:57 IST