Working on the 'short'comings

Working on the 'short'comings

Cricket Preparatory camp: Suresh Raina receives special attention from the Indian think-tank

MASTER'S TIPS: Sachin Tendulkar (left) explains a point to Suresh Raina at the preparatory camp on Friday. DH PhotoBut considering that the batsmen, particularly Suresh Raina, spent a considerable amount of time in the nets honing their skills against the short-pitched stuff -- both from humans and the bowling machine -- on the second day of the four-day preparatory camp, it was clear that the think-tank has indeed taken the issue seriously.

Raina, castigated along with Rohit Sharma for his inability to cope with the short ball, received special attention not just from Kirsten but also Sachin Tendulkar at the National Cricket Academy here on Friday. After every set of about 6-7 balls, the duo would point out the left-hander’s weaknesses and suggest the adjustments he needed to make.

Raina’s exaggerated movement while avoiding the ball prompted Tendulkar to walk up to the youngster and give him some lessons in the art of leaving the ball.

 Indian skipper M S Dhoni during a practice session. AP As a boxer would evade a punch in the ring with a little but brisk movement of his head, Tendulkar even demonstrated to the UP batsman to how to let go the ball without losing one’s balance. Kirsten in fact walked up to Raina thrice in the nets to point out where he was going wrong.

It was, however, not just Raina who was put through the grind. Rahul Dravid, primarily in the side for his proven ability to negate the short ball, skipper MS Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan and Abhishek Nayar, among others, tested their strength against a harder tennis ball coming out of the bowling machine at rapid pace. Not surprisingly, with the exception of Dravid and to an extent Dhoni, it took some effort from other batsmen to negotiate the missiles.

Returning to the one-day fold after nearly two years, Dravid showed his adeptness at both pulling and leaving the ball, a skill Raina would love to own. Kirsten also made the Bangalorean face the tennis ball coming at a high speed with the spin imparted though a tennis racquet, the only time when Dravid looked in any sort of trouble.

The afternoon session, devoted to nets, began with Dravid, Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir beginning the proceedings on pitches of various nature laid out at the academy’s outdoor facilities. Dravid and Dhoni batted on ‘pacy’ tracks while Gambhir practised on the ‘turning track.’ The three then switched pitches before the second set of batsmen -- Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Raina -- followed the routine.

Nayar, the last batsman to leave the scene along with Dinesh Kaarthick, had an extended batting session, Kirsten, as expected, spending time sorting out the Mumbaikar’s problems against the short ball.

The day had begun with a warm-up session followed by a game of football before the players were divided into small groups for a fielding session. Overseen by Kirsten, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, fielding coach Robin Singh, mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton and trainer Ramji Srinivasan, the three-hour exercise didn’t include anything out of the ordinary.

After the fielding stint, some of the players, including Dhoni, Yuvraj and Dravid, played another game of football before breaking for lunch.

Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh exercise during a practice session Coach Gary Kirsten, background right, and cricketers, from left, Abhishek Nayar, Yousuf Pathan and Dinesh Karthik play a game of soccer
Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh exercise
during Team India's fitness and conditioning camp, ahead of Tri-Series and Champions trophy, at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
 Coach Gary Kirsten, background right, and cricketers, from left, Abhishek Nayar, Yousuf Pathan and Dinesh Karthik play a game of soccer. AP