SPORT

Camp for the Ireland-bound

Principal Correspondent

Skipper Dravid has an extended nets session

Customary press briefing not held at the end of the dayVenkatesh Prasad puts Sreesanth through special drills

BANGALORE:Late on Wednesday evening, the iron shutters of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) came hurtling down and it was a cue for the waiting media that there would be no customary press briefing, which earlier was a norm at least on the opening day of a cricket camp at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

With a mist of uncertainty swirling over the `coach-issue' and the persistent speculation over contracts despite status quo being maintained, perhaps the players wanted to steer clear of the press!

The cricket-skills camp for the Indian players scheduled to play in the ODIs in Ireland commenced here in the afternoon with muted fanfare. Bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh are officially in charge of the camp while manager Chandu Borde will not be available for the camp.

Six members absent

Six members of the team Sourav Ganguly, M.S. Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, R.P. Singh, Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar were absent on the opening day and were expected to land later in the night. Some were delayed due to the air-traffic snag caused by the Indian Airlines employees' strike.

The remaining nine players, led by skipper Rahul Dravid, had a batting stint at the nets though bowlers were in short supply. The KSCA provided five young bowlers a mix of seamers and off-spinners to offset the imbalance and the Indian team's support staff too plied its wares.

Trainer Gregory King bowled manfully without a break for more than an hour as Sachin Tendulkar worked on his drives. Physio John Gloster too chipped in briefly while Robin Singh also turned his arm over, late in the day.

S. Sreesanth and Ajit Agarkar were the lone frontline bowlers who bowled a few spells. Later Sreesanth was tested with some drills by Venkatesh Prasad.

Dravid had an extended nets session and was all intensity and focus and once screamed at himself when he mistimed an intended cover drive. Meanwhile players like V.V.S. Laxman, who are part of the Test squad, will not be part of this camp as the BCCI has made it exclusive to those who will play the ODIs in Ireland. The camp is expected to conclude on June 16.

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