Donning a different role

Senior pros Dravid, Yuvraj pass on their expertise to youngsters

Donning a different role

Indian cricket bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, far right standing, looks at cricketers perform exercises during a training camp in Bangalore, India, Saturday.

Over the last two days, while coach Gary Kirsten has been interacting with every player on an individual basis, the senior pros in the side have taken an active interest in attending to their juniors’ problems. If Sachin Tendulkar was hands-on on Friday with Suresh Raina, trying to help the young batsman weed out his shortcomings against the rising ball, Saturday’s penultimate day saw Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh pass on their expertise to younger team-mates.

Even as the top-order batsmen sweated it out at the nets, the tail-enders practised off-side hitting without moving either foot on the adjacent cement track.

Watching Praveen Kumar’s discomfort while executing the stroke, Yuvraj, till then a neutral observer, went up to the right-hander and showed him the way to play the shot. The effect was immediate, drawing applause from the Punjab batsman himself.

Struggling against the bowling machine, Amit Mishra couldn’t have asked for a better ‘coach’ than Dravid, who once again looked the most solid during practice. After watching Mishra for a while from the sidelines, Dravid pointed out the chink’s in the Haryana player’s footwork, after which the leg-spinner started putting bat to ball.

Amidst this camaraderie, Saturday witnessed the players go through another intense practice session with more time devoted to batting and bowling. Unlike on Friday, when they were involved in three-hour fitness and fielding sessions before a three-hour net session, there was a short warm-up routine on Saturday morning from where the team headed to the NCA’s outdoor facilities.

Stumper Dinesh Kaarthick and Raina kicked off the second part of the day’s training. While Kaarthick faced the Indian bowlers, Raina polished his skills against a set of local bowlers before swapping nets. Raina did have some trouble against paceman Ashish Nehra, who bowled at full tilt after taking it easy the previous day.

The left-armer generated decent pace and got the ball to rise on occasions, posing serious questions to the UP batsman. Later, both received throw-downs from Kirsten interspersed with some advice, Kaarthick getting some extra attention from the South African. The Tamil Nadu batsman, who batted on all four practice tracks, spent more time than any other batsman at the nets.

Tendulkar and Yuvraj then followed the set pattern with the latter in some discomfort against the impressive Nehra. The lanky paceman even managed to hit Yuvraj on his right shoulder, forcing the Punjab batsman to call for an ice pack.

After his brief batting stint, Praveen appeared the most dangerous with the ball, even managing to catch Dravid and Dhoni in front of the stumps with bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad playing an obliging umpire! Dhoni also spent a considerable amount of time batting against the bowling machine, setting it to different lengths, lines and heights.
Abhishek Nayar was given an extended spell of bowling before he put on his batting pads to deal some lusty blows. In fact the big hits, at a premium on Friday, flowed freely from batsmen’s willows on the day.  

The players had an unexpected guest in former India captain Anil Kumble. Clad in a striped T-shirt and grey trousers and with a backpack slung on his shoulders, India’s highest wicket-taker first met Kirsten at the ground before walking into the Chinnaswamy dressing room to catch up with his former team-mates.   

Sunday will be the last day of the camp, after which most of the players will take part in the BCCI’s inaugural Corporate Trophy from September 1-8 before departing to Sri Lanka for the tri-series.

Gautam Gambhir was absent on the day as the diminutive opener had to leave for Delhi to receive the Arjuna award. Given the controversy around Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh’s absence at the award ceremony last year, Gambhir could have ill-afforded to give it a skip.

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