Sports Reporter

Chennai: The Indians had a rain-curtailed practice session at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Monday. Mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton began work with the players, with specific and personal discussions with each cricketer.

Virender Sehwag, who will most likely open with Wasim Jaffer, said that the time spent with Upton had been well-utilised. “He dealt with aspects related to mental toughness. As a batsman, there are certain things you cannot discuss with others, but talking to him helps in finding a solution. What I spoke is confidential, but it’s been very useful.”

“When you play cricket for so long, you tend to forget certain things, so it’s good to talk and get feedback. It helped in preparation and motivation.”

Acclimatising to conditions in Chennai after a three-month Australian tour, he said, wouldn’t take time.

“Both tracks are bouncy, just that wickets were faster there. We’ve grown up here, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.” The 29-year-old said that dealing with the weather would be the hardest for the South Africans.

Specific drills

Coach Gary Kirsten’s practice sessions so far have involved specific drills for each skill and each player, based on assessing his strengths and weaknesses.

“The biggest difference between having a coach now and not having one earlier, has been in man-management and managing time. A lot of time would get wasted in practice sessions earlier. It doesn’t anymore. We all have specific roles and targets, and cannot get back to the dressing room unless we meet them. He’s done a lot of homework for each player,” Sehwag said.

On his match-saving innings in the Adelaide Test which helped in his selection for the series, he said, “people don’t expect much before a tough series. I’m very happy to have proved them wrong.

“I wasn’t in the right mind-set earlier and struggled. I decided to spend some time in the middle before attacking. It helped me.”

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