Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Cricket World Cup 2023 IND vs ENG | Rohit’s men encash their optional nets choice ahead of India-England match

By Sampad Oct27,2023
Spin-friendly chatter: It will be interesting to see if Ashwin, right, gets a game in Lucknow.

Spin-friendly chatter: It will be interesting to see if Ashwin, right, gets a game in Lucknow.
| Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

Arms on his hips, Rahul Dravid watched the pitch closely. For someone, who has spent long hours on those 22 yards across the cricketing globe, gazing at the centre-square is second nature. The former India captain and present coach gingerly walked around while the ground-staff trimmed the grass and the pitch transformed from dull green to an earthy brown hue.

Dravid’s meditative rounds constituted the concluding phase of Friday’s training session for the host. Earlier in the afternoon, the sun remained the harsh dispenser of dry heat, baking the players to a crisp while in the shade, media personnel with parched throats sought water bottles. Meanwhile, the Men in Blue, gearing up for their Sunday’s World Cup clash against a bruised England, encashed their optional nets choice here at the Ekana Stadium.

Most, including skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, preferred to rest. A few others, with the coaching staff led by Dravid, turned up for a training stint at the nearby B ground. Mohammed Shami and Ishan Kishan, who had skipped Thursday’s schedule, were a strong presence and besides them were Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur.

The lone specialist batter Gill hopped across nets, playing straight and getting those crucial batting hours under his belt. Having missed this World Cup’s early days due to dengue, the opener subsequently etched 16, 53 and 26 with all three knocks revealing a certain permanence before an ambitious shot undid his vigil.

Siraj and Shardul were the workhorses, bowling with gusto. The duo also had their individual batting stints. Shami, though, preferred a more softer approach. With just his left leg padded, wearing tracks and flexing his bat against gentle throw-downs, he kept driving or lofting through the line. In the adjacent net, Jadeja tried to sharpen his short-arm pull and also launched a few towards an imaginary long-on. In keeping in tune with the ‘tail-should-bat’ theme, Kuldeep used his willow before retreating to the main stadium.

Hardik Pandya’s hopefully temporary absence is being felt and the Indian think-tank has been employing fresh strategies to seal the vacuum he has left behind. Towards the end, Ishan and Shardul continued their quest for batting rhythm and it was left for the local bowlers and coaching staff to keep the two occupied.

It wasn’t easy in the heat while up in the skies, kites glided in circles. Having arrived from Dharamshala’s cool landscape, India has done well over these two days to get accustomed to the weather contrasts in Lucknow in which the day’s dry heat seamlessly wanes into a more comfortable twilight before the night offers a nip in the air.

England, defending champion with its title defence in tatters, at best could play a spoiler for other teams. And India, with one foot in the semifinal, isn’t taking any chances against a wounded rival.

By Sampad

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