Kolkata: Sometimes it isn’t such a bad idea to take a break and start afresh when things aren’t going your way. And that is exactly what the Indian team has done.
Having lost the Mumbai Test inside four days, they used the week-long break to stay away from the game and spend time with their families before reaching Kolkata — the venue of the third Test — on Sunday.
The team members hit the Eden Gardens nets on Monday to get back into the groove.
With the weather on the cooler side, the bright sun didn’t seem bother them much as they warmed up for a while before getting down to business.
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Virender Sehwag was the first hit the nets. But rather than starting off against the pacers or spinners, he preferred a few throwdowns. Having settled down, he took on the likes of Ishant Sharma, Ashoke Dinda and R Ashwin.
While Sehwag used the wicket next to the match wicket on the square, Gautam Gambhir and Cheteshwar Pujara batted on the practice wickets against net bowlers, before exchanging nets.
Next in was Sachin Tendulkar and the few hundred fans present to watch their favourite stars in action went berserk, shouting his name and distracting the other players too.
Or, to look at it another way, maybe the spectators were preparing them for the roar of the 70,000-strong crowds that can be expected on matchdays.
Although he received a warm welcome as he walked into the nets, Tendulkar’s batting was a pale shadow of his in-form self.
Most of the shots weren’t from the middle of the bat and the few that did hit the middle didn’t look too impressive either.
Having warmed up for close to 70 minutes, first on the massage table and then in the field, Zaheer Khan came in to bowl against Tendulkar. And both looked out of sorts — with Zaheer running in gingerly and the maestro failing to connect even his trademark straight drives.
Virat Kohli looked the most impressive as virtually every ball hit right in the middle of his bat, making the sound which brings with it a sense of awe.
Earlier, England trained in the morning and, as expected, the emphasis was on the batsmen playing the spinners rather than the pacers. Even the net bowlers that the English management had asked for from the Cricket Association of Bengal were all tweakers.
Kevin Pietersen was the first batsman to pad up, with Jonathan Trott for company in the adjoining net. Alastair Cook, though, preferred to fine-tune his batting skills adjacent to the match wicket with Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar bowling at the captain.
Pietersen and Trott preferred playing the net bowlers before hitting the centre practice wicket where they faced the likes of Steven Finn and James Anderson.
Finn has been under wraps so far due to injury, but he did go full throttle on Monday. He looked in good rhythm as he kept troubling Pietersen and Trott, and looks likely to replace the out-of-sorts Stuart Broad. Trott, who has been going through an extended lean patch, spent maximum time with bat in hand.