Indian cricketers relax at Sun City

Some might question the wisdom of putting the flannels away for a couple of days at what might appear a flash-point in the series and chilling out at the country’s premier holiday resort, but as Anil Kumble so famously pointed out in the aftermath of the crushing defeat in Melbourne in December 2007, one additional practice session hasn’t made anyone a great player or one less session hasn’t diminished his skills.

The Indians are scheduled to arrive here on Thursday morning and have three full training sessions lined up at Kingsmead – including Thursday afternoon – ahead of the second Test starting on Sunday. The two-day break ought to have done them a world of good, and if they arrive here on the morrow itching to hit the ground running, it will have vindicated the Gary Kirsten-Mahendra Singh Dhoni stance of judiciously mixing hectic training and much-needed rest. Kirsten is a strong believer in letting the players decide how much workload they want to endure in the lead-up to a Test match. Optional training sessions have been the norm rather than the exception, unless the coach himself feels the odd individual is taking it too easy, but when it is time for business, there has been no compromise. It’s an approach that has paid rich dividends thus far; if Kirsten can pull off another coup in the country of his birth in what could be his last Test assignment as India coach, it could well be the template his successors will be tempted to employ.

The South Africans too have been given time off after the Centurion Test to be with their families in the lead-up to Christmas. Graeme Smith’s team will not train until Friday afternoon as they seek to further their bid to snatch the number one ranking away from the Indians with a 3-0 sweep.

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