Calcutta: Team India’s Mission Pakistan campaign got off to a confident start at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. The weather threatened to play spoilsport, bringing about bouts of drizzle in between the three-hour session, but ultimately the players’ determination prevailed over the ‘uncontrollables’.
The enthusiasm of the players was evident from the moment they arrived at the Eden. A stint at the Pankaj Gupta indoor training centre gym was followed by nets at the centre square and fielding sessions. Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag also had a knock at the indoor strip. Captain Sourav Ganguly even used the tennis balls to finetune his batting skills.
The vice captain spoke of sustaining the intensity throughout and felt the circumstances and pressure “won’t be much different” from the Australia tour in November. “A key lesson learnt from the tour Down Under is that we have to play with the same intensity. In Australia we played well in the Tests, but could not maintain the same in the one-dayers. We’ve to try and play to that intensity in Pakistan,” Dravid said at a media conference later.
Except for Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra, who are playing the Duleep Trophy final in Mohali, all have joined the conditioning camp. Yuvraj has hit centuries in both innings while Nehra also looked in good shape. Given that the final ends on Monday and the camp a day after, it would make little sense for them to come here.
Sachin Tendulkar, however, decided to give the practice session a skip. Instead he chose to do some physical conditioning at the Eden dressing room. He is expected to play the 45-over practice game on Monday.
Kapil Dev, too, made his presence felt. Will the former India skipper’s appearance be of much help to the pacers in this short stint' “If you look at it that way, even two/three months will not be enough,” Dravid said. “It’s a question of learning from his vast experience. He has been to Pakistan a few times and knows what is best for the bowlers.
“He is not here to suggest drastic changes but just pass on the knowledge. He can always tell the bowlers the areas on which they should concentrate and the length to bowl at.”
Dravid felt that just one warm-up game on the tour wasn’t the “ideal situation”.
“In an ideal scenario we should have had a three-dayer before the Tests. The players in the ODI squad will get accustomed to the conditions. But those arriving for the Tests may have a bit of a problem,” he said.
He felt that the hype created will be of little value if things don’t fall into place. “The only language that matters is how you perform in the 22 yards. All comes to nought at the end of the day if you goals aren’t accomplished.”
Later in the evening, the players had a team meeting.
Among the bowlers who helped the Indians at nets were R.P. Singh and V.R. V. Singh, both from the India under-19 squad asa well as Avishkar Salvi, Siddharth Trivedi, Munaf Patel N. Ayappa and Bengal's Sourav Sarkar and Shabbir Ali.