It must be a relief for the Indian and Australian teams to witness clear skies in the Orange city. The washouts in Ranchi and Cuttack have broken the momentum of the exciting seven-match series.
It has also rained quite heavily in Nagpur this year and locals say it has been one the most wet and longest monsoon in the city.
Even the pitch preparation for the sixth ODI started late, only after October 15, when the rains stopped. But the sun has smiled since then and the forecast for the week is fine.
Under the sun, the two teams sweated it out at long net sessions having spent the last few days indoors. India practiced for four hours at the sprawling Jamtha Stadium and the focus was naturally on the bowlers, who have been under the scanner in the series.
Fast bowlers and spinners alike have found it difficult to restrict the Australian batsmen. Death bowling has only added to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s headache.
Therefore, it was no surprise to see Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed and Ravichandran Ashwin arrive before the rest of the squad and practice under the watchful eyes of bowling coach Joe Dawes.
The trio bowled for around half an hour before joining their teammates for regular drills.
Later, during net practice, captain Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher watched Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin and Amit Mishra bowling. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a one-on-one session with Dawes on one of the pitches besides the track which was being prepared for the match.
Bhuvneshwar has had a fabulous start to his career, but has found the going tough in the ongoing series. He has been unable to provide the breakthroughs and has only one wicket to show in three matches. India’s changes in the squad in Ranchi — Shami and Jaydev Unadkat in place of Ishant and Bhuvenshwar — did bear fruit to some extent. Shami, in particular, impressed with the new ball and bowled his personal best of 3-42, but India still struggled to contain Australia in the middle overs as the visitors piled up 295.
The think tank could look at legspinner Mishra as an option. The matches so far have been run feasts with batsmen frequently getting 300-plus totals. The pitch at Jamtha, too, has always been productive for batsmen.
However, heavy rain till the middle of October could ensure the presence of moisture on the pitch, much to the bowlers’ liking. A contest between bat and ball, which had been missing in this series, would be a welcome change.