Harbhajan misses first day of training session

The off-spinner failed to make it because of a delayed flight, it was learnt.

Mumbai: The Indian squad, barring Harbhajan Singh, on Friday had its first training session at the Cricket Club of India ahead of the Test series against England, starting in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

The squad had a two-hour training session under chief coach Duncan Fletcher, bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Evan Speechly.

With the World Twenty20 and Champions League T20 having consumed most of September and October, this was the first outing for India’s Test side in nine weeks, the first after the New Zealand series.

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The light training session started with a stint of football and was followed by proper net session.

The batsmen took to the nets as per the batting order in batches of four, with Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara and Sachin Tendulkar starting off. Next in were Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The fitness of Zaheer, who had lasted all of 13.3 overs on India’s tour of England last year, was again in focus.

Zaheer had cramps during the recent Mumbai-Railways Ranji Trophy match. The left-arm pacer had a half-an-hour bowling stint at nets without going flat out.

Conspicuously absent was Harbhajan, included in the Test squad after being in the wilderness for more than a year. He failed to make it because of a delayed flight, it was learnt.

The off-spinner has the chance to make up for the lost time during the next two full days’ training.

Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Murali Vijay were recalled to the Test squad. Yuvraj has proven his fitness for the rigours of Test cricket over the last month after recovering from a germ cell cancer.

After the conclusion of the three-day preparatory camp, the team will depart for Ahmedabad on Monday.

The same 15 has been retained for the second match at the Wankhede from November 23.

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