Sunday, December 31, 2017

South Africa vs India Build-up: Virat Kohli happy to do away with warm-up match

Virat Kohli PIC/AP, PTI
Skipper Virat Kohli addresses the media in Cape Town on Saturday. PIC/AP, PTI

The first ball faced by an Indian batsman on the tour of South Africa was a snorter that reared menacingly from a good length. It was not delivered by a tall South African, but rather a member of the support staff whipping the ball in at Ajinkya Rahane in a practice net. But this was not because of the bounce in the pitch, but rather that there were a few damp spots about, and the players soon moved to another strip and settled in. India's first practice session of the 2017-18 tour of South Africa was less cricket nets and more like a cricket camp. The picturesque ground of the Western Province Cricket Association, which India have sort of commandeered as their home base for the moment, was awash with players in all parts. From batting in the nets to centre-wicket practice to slip-catching to fielding drills, nearly 25 Indians, including support staff and support bowlers, were on the park at any given time.

Dhawan doubtful
Shikhar Dhawan, who picked up an ankle injury and is unlikely to play in the Cape Town Test - although there is no official word - did not bat or train, but the rest of the team enjoyed the facilities in a split session that lasted nearly five hours. Kohli explained the rationale behind India opting out of the pre-series practice match and choosing to train as a unit instead. "If you look at the wicket we are playing on right now, it's not even going to be 15 per cent of what we will get in the game. We understand that. There is no point wasting two days, guys going in, scoring quick fifties and coming out. We would rather have them do two sessions like today, get into the Test match zone and test ourselves," said Kohli.

'Good training session is enough'
"We can try and prepare the wickets the way you want to. But if you are playing a two-day game there is no chance of changing the wicket at different times of the day. Here we have more freedom to put more water on the wicket, roll it, make it harder come tomorrow's practice session and you have conditions you want. You are never sure whether you are getting quality practice games or not. We would rather have practice sessions that are in our control. If you are in a good headspace and have a good practice session then that's good enough."

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