Cricket

Practice game reduced to three days

Not to India’s liking: India coach Ravi Shastri was seen having an animated discussion with the local officials after getting a glimpse of the ‘grassy’ pitch and a barren outfield, which could have caused injury while fielding.

Not to India’s liking: India coach Ravi Shastri was seen having an animated discussion with the local officials after getting a glimpse of the ‘grassy’ pitch and a barren outfield, which could have caused injury while fielding.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The team management was unhappy over the condition of the pitch and outfield

India’s four-day practice match against county side Essex was reduced to three days amid high drama over the condition of the pitch and the outfield, both of which apparently left the visitors unhappy and threw their preparations for the Test series against England haywire.

The Indian team management took this decision during Tuesday afternoon’s net practice after having a look at the pitch.

Although there was no official word on why the match was shortened, India coach Ravi Shastri was seen having an animated discussion with the local officials after getting a glimpse of the ‘grassy’ pitch and a barren outfield that can cause injury while fielding.

The rest of the Indian support staff, including assistant coach Sanjay Bangar and bowling coach Bharat Arun also took stock of the conditions and were seen having discussions with the ground staff. Given that the game is not a classified First Class match, it is confirmed that the Indian team will be using all 18 members of its Test squad.

Requests accepted

A senior member of the ground staff said that “all requests of the Indian team management have been accepted”.

When pressed if that included “shaving off the grass”, he said: “We have bent over backwards to accommodate the Indian team management’s demands. It is disappointing though because we had sold a lot of tickets for the fourth day (Saturday).”

Meanwhile, India’s practice session lasted nearly four hours, with players arriving here in two batches.

Nearly all batsmen and bowlers had rigorous workouts, with Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli also concentrating on slip fielding.

Even so, the sheen was taken off the practice session as the decision to shorten the game came two hours later.

As per statement from the Indian team management, the squad will travel to Birmingham on Saturday and start its preparations for the first Test match (from August 1) a day early.

With the wicket and ground conditions turning out to be completely different from what is expected to be on offer during the Tests, it remains to be seen how the Indian team management goes about doing things over the next three days.

This includes Jasprit Bumrah, who bowled in tandem with Ishant Sharma, albeit with a heavily taped left thumb. Mohammed Shami also bowled a long spell in the nets. Shikhar Dhawan worked on facing short balls and took tips from Shastri, while skipper Virat Kohli took throwdowns.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:22:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/practice-game-reduced-to-three-days/article24505659.ece

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