The Telegraph
Friday , January 18 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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No recess as India focus on practice

Ranchi: If winning is a habit, then the Indian team would certainly want to carry the momentum into the third match of the Airtel series at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA)’s International Stadium on Saturday.

For a side going through a transition phase, the Kochi victory has not only helped them level the one-day series but has also bred confidence and enthusiasm. So much so that there seemed to be a spring in their steps during the almost three hour-long practice session on Thursday.

For Ranchi, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s hometown, this will be their first tryst with international cricket. The captain’s homecoming is possibly the biggest event in their calendar and hence the clamour for tickets and the fervour isn’t surprising.

More so when Dhoni has been in fine touch of late and has time and again turned out to be the saviour in a crisis. As the pressure grew on his captaincy, Dhoni has shown the zeal to lead from the front and in the process silenced the Doubting Thomases.

Knowing well that a 2-1 lead will prove to be crucial in the five-match series, the Indians wouldn’t wish to leave anything to chance.

While England enjoyed a day off, the Indians focused on physical training and fielding drills on Thursday evening.

The players sprinted in pairs with Gautam Gambhir and Ravindra Jadeja outshining the others. Yuvraj Singh, though, concentrated mainly on his batting before engaging in a round of football with teammates.

Dhoni knows that this England team’s character will be put to the sternest test in front of a partisan full-house once the batsmen get going. The wicket is expected to favour the batsmen with the prospect of another high scoring match looming large.

“It will be a sporting wicket,” said Vasudev, the curator. “The stroke-players will enjoy batting… The bowlers too will get help with the conditions aiding swing.”

Vasudev, who had been in charge of the Keenan in Jamshedpur previously, moved to Ranchi some 22 months earlier and has since been looking after the wicket here.

“Dew won’t be a major concern… There’s not much cold and the dew has also lessened,” he said.

Vasudev didn’t wish to indicate a safe score but indicated that something around 300 could prove to be useful.

The records also point to a batsmen-friendly wicket. Four under-19 matches, besides a Ranji tie involving Jharkhand and Himachal, have been played on this wicket this season. Four centuries were scored in the last match played in late November.

That should provide some encouragement to the Indian top order.