World Cup

India takes a different approach

On Thursday, India will meet Bangladesh having been in the nets only once since the previous fixture. But keeping exhaustion and boredom at bay can be as important as working on skills.  

Tuesday ushered in one of those cloudy, windswept Melbourne afternoons, when the temperature remained most agreeably in the high teens. It was meant to be a day of optional training for India but the squad was out in full strength at the MCG.

A good day to bat and bowl, except there was none of it. An hour of warming up and doing fielding drills, another hour of football, and India was done. It is not an approach most teams would take two days before a quarterfinal.

In contrast, Bangladesh had extended its ‘nets’ session by an hour in the morning, after a drizzle had interrupted practice outdoors and forced the players into the indoor facility.

But India is not most teams (nor is South Africa who, it seems, took the day ahead of the quarterfinal off). Ignoring match-days, and the ones immediately before and after, India has had nine days of rest and five days of training since the World Cup began.

Whatever objections people may hold about a routine of this sort, there is no arguing with the team’s success at the tournament. M.S. Dhoni and the management have arrived on a method that works, and it seems silly to criticise it from the outside.

“A lot has been said that when you’re constantly playing cricket, what matters more than net sessions is rest, especially when you’re playing a long series,” Dhoni said after the win over UAE.

“If you extend the Australia series, it’s a four-five month tour on the whole. We know everything about the conditions. We’ve played at almost all the venues so we know how the wickets behave. Being mentally fresh is very important.

Divide the workload

“What we’re doing is dividing the workload, trying to practise on alternate days. Three days of high-intensity practice is better than six days of mediocre practice. We’re mixing it. Even an off day is only an off day on the field. We do gym or pool sessions or try to play a bit of tennis — all these things to keep ourselves fresh.”

Dhoni has been asked repeatedly to explain the team’s metamorphosis after the Australia tour and he has mentioned each time the break his players took to clear their heads. It was clear that the team was mentally fatigued.

It has been over a month since the World Cup began, and only now is the quarterfinal in sight for India. In that period, the longer the team went without a stimulating contest to look ahead to, the more likely it was that tedium would set in. This was also something that Dhoni was perhaps trying to guard against.

On Thursday, India will meet Bangladesh having been in the nets only once since the previous fixture. But keeping exhaustion and boredom at bay can be as important as working on skills.

“All our plans, our practice sessions, maintaining fitness — everything has so far gone well for us,” Dhoni said in Perth. “A lot of people have different opinions, but it’s better if we don’t pay heed to others’ opinions and do what we feel within the team is right.”


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 1:45:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/india-takes-a-different-approach/article7004213.ece

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