Suspense over Viru’s fitness

Sehwag hasn’t had a hit since taking one on the thumb in the nets on Friday.



Heavy overnight showers, which had forced Ireland out of the World Twenty20 on Monday night, seemed never to have happened when India returned to the practice field after a day- long break on Tuesday.

As the sun beat down on Colombo, the Indians, wearing their fluorescent green t-shirts, took to the bone-dry Colombo Colts Cricket Club ground to prepare for their opening Super Eights clash against Australia here on Friday.

About two hours into the session, Ravichandran Ashwin was escorted into the umpires’ room located to the left of the sight-screen, and was followed by Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag.

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It turned out to be a ‘routine, random’ dope test, according to India’s media manager RN Baba, and didn’t seem to cause much of a flutter, though Yuvraj Singh was overheard remarking: “How many times will we have to undergo a dope test?” The ICC has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code and made every player available for dope tests at its major tournaments, and Baba said the tests were conducted at ‘every training session’.

Ashwin also ‘opened’ the batting in the nets after the team underwent agility and strengthening exercises under the watchful eye of the support staff for about an hour. The off-spinner, who was rested for the England game on Sunday, is almost certain to be back in the line-up for the Australia game given his form with the ball, and his hitting on Tuesday wasn’t cussing hamstring Penney.

It was Sehwag whose fitness still seemed a concern, for he hasn’t had a hit since taking one on the thumb in the nets on Friday.

He was ‘rested’ for the dead rubber according to skipper MS Dhoni, but didn’t bat on Tuesday either. The team’s official stand, though, is that he is fit.

Harbhajan also didn’t bowl, in fact, and could be seen discussing strengthening his hamstring with fielding coach Trevor Penney. He did find time to do a spot of dancing towards the end the session, as the team waited for its bus to come over from the designated parking spot to the gate.

Zaheer Khan did still look to be struggling with his fitness, walking gingerly and spending over half an hour receiving a rubdown after the initial exercises.

However, his net bowling was certainly sharper than last week, he did have a batsman or in a tangle with some sharp bouncers.

Suresh Raina had a very long stint at the nets, and had a lot of people diving for cover with his big hits, though one of net bowlers did bowl him with a perfect left-arm spinner’s arm-ball.

Raina was so impressed with the young lad, Chanaka, that he gifted him a brand new pair gloves. Raina was also involved in the most hilarious moment of the day.

Served up a short-pitched delivery by a fast bowler at the nets, the left-hander top-edged one that sneaked through a gap in the top netting and lodged itself there.

Soon after, there was a carbon copy of the incident and this time, Raina could be seen jumping and trying to dislodge the ball with his bat.

The bowler then climbed up the side netting and brought down both the balls, while Raina looked on in admiration at the boy’s agility.

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