With grey clouds taking charge of the skies – as they have unfailingly done over the past week here – the threat of rain formed the backdrop for the Indian cricket team’s training camp on Monday ahead of the Sri Lankan tour.
Fortunately for the Indians, who will be playing Sri Lanka in five ODIs and one T20, the season’s first practice session remained unhindered by weather. A new season also meant new training apparel: the cricketers were seen sporting a black jersey with a dash of luminous green. Suresh Raina, boyish grin intact, was the first player to step out for practice soon after coach Duncan Fletcher and bowling coach Joe Dawes made their way to the ground.
Raina’s colleagues, including skipper M.S. Dhoni, vice-captain Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag, and Zaheer Khan, joined him not long after for the running and stretching routine. A spot of football was next on the agenda. Going by the players’ excited shrieks, it appeared like an exercise offering fun and competition in equal measure. Serious business commenced with batsmen, in pairs, alternating between the fast-bowlers’ and spinners’ nets.
After Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan warmed-up with some lusty hits, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir took over. Even as Zaheer sought to gradually find his rhythm, Yadav went flat out. R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha continued to wheel away in the spinners’ net. In a particularly aggressive mood, Dhoni and Kohli put the media personnel, situated on the boundary, in peril with some vicious strikes. One shot from Kohli found Rahul Sharma’s head. Much to the relief of the team management, there was no serious injury. “Rahul is ok now,” Ravi Jain, media manager of the side, informed later.
The second day of the camp will be held on Tuesday following which the team will leave for Sri Lanka on Wednesday.