Fans, cross fingers for winning toss

"Bouncy, will help us for Mohali," quipped all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, Man of the Match in India's Kochi win against England, on the rub of the Ranchi greens. "Whoever fields first has an edge."

A sunny morning net practice on two practice pitches at the JSCA International Stadium Complex on Friday, a day ahead of the third ODI, got Team India familiar with ground conditions.

Though the team had done its evening drill on Thursday, players looked relaxed as they started their practice from 11 am.

But there was a fair bit of drama as skipper M.S. Dhoni was hit on his right thumb by a rising delivery from bowling coach Joe Dawes. Aces Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and Gautam "Gauti" Gambhir also took time to adjust to the bounce.

Dhoni showed his trademark poise by wisely stopping practice and leaving without making a fuss. Gauti, Yuvi and others continued to play.

But the motley crowd at the practice session ' from security guards and housekeepers to journalists from the city, India and abroad ' had already become tense. There was only one question on every mind ' what if Dhoni injured his thumb and couldn't play the ODI on Saturday?

Ab Dhoni nahi khelega to dekhna public match nahi hone degi kal. (People won't allow the match to be played if Dhoni doesn't play tomorrow)," a woman housekeeper told another in the stadium's wing A.

Alarmingly, she had nailed public sentiment right on the head.

It proved to be a false alarm in the course of a pre-match news meet around 12.30pm, though not before some chills.

Though many expected Dhoni or a senior player to address the media, 24-year-old Saurashtra sensation Jadeja, fresh from a scintillating knock of 61 in the Kochi ODI, fielded a volley of questions.

"What happened to Dhoni? Will he play tomorrow? What is the intensity of the injury?" a correspondent of Sky Sports channel asked.

"I still don't know as I was practising," was Jadeja's reply that only deepened curiosity.

On the sidelines, team manager (logistics) Satish assured The Telegraph and a couple of other journalists that Dhoni was fine. He doesn't need X-ray or scan, he just wants to rest his thumb. All the 15 boys are fit for selection tomorrow," he added.

Jadeja was more forthcoming when asked about Team India's chances.

"After today's practice, Team India looks positive. We hope to carry our form after the Kochi win," said Jadeja.

On playing conditions, he said it looks "brimming".

"Look, we didn't practise on the main pitch so it is difficult to say how it will react. Rolling has been done even today But I think it will offer pretty good bounce and assist bowlers. That won't be a problem and will assist us in our next game (in Mohali) as the pitch is bouncy in nature," said Jadeja.

He added that the toss would prove crucial. "It's better to field on this wicket," he added.

Team England, despite its eye-candy line-up of players including skipper Alastair Cook, kept a low profile. The boys spent the morning at the hotel and practised at the nets in the second half.


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