Camp ends on crisp note

Indian team to leave for Chennai today for first Test

Camp ends on crisp note

Indian cricket team’s three-day preparatory camp ahead of the Test series against Australia ended at the M Chinnaswamy stadium premises here on Monday with a crisp afternoon session that lasted a little more than three hours.

India will take on Australia in the first of the four Tests at Chennai from February 22, and MS Dhoni & Co might have been quite happy about the way the camp shaped up over the last three days. There was an intense Test match simulation session on the opening day on Saturday intended to help the players shake off the rust that might have accumulated from the lengthy time away from the longer version of the game.

While some of the squad members like Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Murali Vijay have played either in the Ranji Trophy final or in the Irani Trophy -- both the matches in the case of Tendulkar -- it was more of a continuation of the process of tuning their game, while others like skipper Dhoni, Ishant Sharma, Virender Sehwag, R Ashwin, Virat Kohli and Pragyan Ojha got a feeling of the five-day game after nearly three months.

The last time India played a Test match was in December last year, when they drew with England at Nagpur to lose the series 1-2. In that context, the outings of Sehwag and Ishant might have pleased the team think-tank to a great extent. Sehwag’s form -- or the lack of it -- has been a topic of intense debate in the last few months, and the Delhiite lost a fine chance to play a five-day game when a stomach bug forced him to skip the Irani Trophy.

There have been reports of Ishant’s ankle injury flaring up again forcing him to travel to Melbourne for treatment, but both Sehwag and Ishant showed no signs of discomfort over the last three days. The Delhi Dasher was in quite nice touch at the nets, hammering his India team-mates and net bowlers with equal disdain.

Leader of the pace attack in the absence of injured Zaheer Khan, Ishant’s efforts in the nets were watched keenly and the lanky pacer didn’t disappoint the backroom staff one bit while bowling at full throttle, often troubling the batsmen with pace and bounce. Harbhajan Singh, who is expected to play a crucial role in the series, too had neat three days in the camp, working closely with coach Duncan Fletcher and bowling coach Joe Dawes. The Punjab offie has 90 wickets against Australia with 81 of them coming at home.

So, with nearly all the boxes ticked the Indian team will leave to Chennai on Tuesday, and they will have their first practice session before the first Test at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Wednesday.

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