Calcutta: Given the weird travel arrangements Team India remained in Bulawayo, instead of heading for Harare, on Saturday.
It wasn’t, by any stretch of imagination, a day off though.
For starters, coach Greg Chappell called a team meeting at 10.30 am and, for the next hour almost, highlighted shortcomings in Friday’s ODI against New Zealand.
Later, captain Sourav Ganguly and the rest had another workout at the Queens Sports Club.
The session wasn’t optional as the batsmen, in particular (no exceptions, mind you), needed to straighten out a few things.
Actually, some were an absolute embarrassment in the 51-run defeat at the hands of the Black Caps.
“Chappell’s post-mortem was supported by video recordings and just about every dismissal was analysed,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph in the evening.
Sports scientist Ian Frazer also spoke, briefly.
According to the source, Chappell didn’t crucify anybody, but did emphasise “some wickets” were thrown away.
“He was candid, yet didn’t say anything which could affect morale even more' He didn’t allow his own disappointment to dominate the post-mortem,” the source added.
In fact, Chappell is understood to have said: “The best lessons are probably learnt from the most adverse situations'”
It’s with reason that many regard him an eternal optimist.
Not only did Team India lose all three ODIs to Sri Lanka, in the recent season-launching tri-series across the Palk Strait, New Zealand were allowed to win despite being on the mat at 36 for five.
Incidentally, but for a rethink, Murali Kartik would have become India’s first super sub.
Apparently, the rethink gained momentum after one of the seniors suggested the super sub “should either be a solid batsman or a solid bowler.”
Well, it seems the left-arm spinner isn’t viewed as a “solid bowler” or else specialist bat Yalaka Venugopal Rao ' who wasn’t in the XII originally decided upon ' wouldn’t have created history.
Sadly, a missile-like yorker from Shane Bond ensured young Venugopal had the shortest stay possible.
It’s to be seen if he retains the super sub berth on Monday, when India play Zimbabwe in Harare.
Returning to Kartik, if there’s such little faith, what was the point in selecting him and not the seasoned Anil Kumble'
Kumble sat out the first three ODIs in Sri Lanka, excelled in the fourth (three for 38 versus the West Indies) and was expensive (none for 64) in the fifth ' the final, against the hosts.
It’s not clear whether Kumble’s dropping was unanimous, but Sourav had asked the selectors to “personally inform Anil” of his exclusion.
Meanwhile, manager Amitabh Choudhary wasn’t available for comment, but one learns efforts to advance the return to Harare failed as Air Zimbabwe couldn’t confirm all 22 ' including Arti Sehwag’s ' tickets.
Unlike other days, there’s just one Bulawayo-Harare flight on Saturdays.
Now, Team India will be reaching Harare (on Sunday), barely 24 hours before match No. 2. So much for the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s foresight.