Principal Correspondent

  • Dravid and Sehwag had the first batting session lasting 20 minutes
  • Bowlers of NCA's under-19 batch have a go at the Indian batsmen

    Bangalore: A security guard scampering hard on the road adjoining the Chinnaswamy Stadium's KSCA (B) ground is a sight that often indicates that Sachin Tendulkar is holding court inside. And Monday was no different as the man ran with a lathi held aloft while the fans busy clambering onto the fence were too focussed on the maestro inside.

    A welcome sight

    Tendulkar's return to the Indian team and his presence at the nets was indeed a welcome sight as the cricket-skills camp had its first outdoor session here on Monday. The players had a full day's practice session in the four nets two at the KSCA (B) ground and two at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Tendulkar batted with ease and solidity and it was evident that the scars of surgery had healed.

    The duo of skipper Rahul Dravid and deputy Virender Sehwag had the first batting session lasting 20 minutes before Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh stepped in to bat in the adjoining nets. Coach Greg Chappell and the support staff of bio-mechanist Ian Frazer, trainer Gregory King and physio John Gloster kept a watch on the proceedings, while alternating their stints at both the KSCA (B) and the main stadium.

    "The players' reaction-time to situations has improved and our activities in this camp will be cricket-specific," said Frazer.

    L. Balaji and Murali Kartik, recovering from injuries, also turned their arm over for short sessions. Bowlers ranging from the experienced Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh to the rookies training as part of the National Cricket Academy's (NCA) under-19 batch strained their sinews against the Indian batsmen. The academy's bowling coach Arshad Ayub termed the exposure to his lads as a welcome experience.

    More arrives

    And as the players got into the groove of some hard practice after lunch, selection committee chairman Kiran More arrived and interacted with the team management besides having a brief word with Balaji.

    Later talking to the media, More dismissed all speculation centred on the number of probables who will be selected for the ICC Champions Trophy here on Wednesday. It may be recalled that talk has ranged about the possibility of either 30 or 22 probables being selected.

    Not decided

    More, however, refused to give a number, but said, "the number of probables has not been decided and it is up to the captain, coach and other selectors along with me to decide when we meet on Wednesday." More also declined to comment on Sourav Ganguly's probable inclusion in the list, but was more forthcoming in his views on John Wright. "I haven't read his book so I cannot exactly comment, but I do respect John (Wright) and the things he has improved," More said.

    After a long day under the sun, the players left for a swimming-pool session at the team hotel. They will also attend a charity dinner to generate funds for the victims of the Mumbai blasts later in the night. On Tuesday, the players are scheduled to test their mettle in an open-net practice match.

    In the evening, the Indian cricket team and corporates joined hands to do their bit for those affected by the serial blasts in Mumbai's suburban trains on July 11. A sum of Rs. 20.15 lakhs was collected as part of the charity dinner organised by Vyas Giannetti Creative agency at the Grand Ashok to raise funds for those affected by the terrorist act. The amount will be donated to the `Maharashtra Chief Minister's relief fund'.

    On the occasion, the three Mumbaikars in the team Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar also released a wristband with the words `Mumbai notout' printed on it. The proceeds from the sale of these bands will be used to assist the affected families.

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