More support staff than players

Indian skipper Virat Kohli is concentration personified as he bats during Tuesday's optional practice session in Manchester. AP/PTI

India’s scheduled full-fledged practice session in Manchester on Tuesday was converted into an optional one after persistent drizzle left the ground damp and unfit for outdoor training. The ‘nets’ were held at indoor facilities of the Old Trafford with only skipper Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Vijay Shankar turning up for the session besides a recuperating Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The paceman had a short bowl during practice and did some shadow practicing, showing encouraging signs of progress from the left hamstring injury that he sustained in the game against Pakistan.

The practice session, however, saw support staff outnumber the players themselves. While head coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharat Arun watched over the proceedings, assistant coach Sanjay Bangar, fielding coach R Sridhar and throw down specialist Raghu gave the batsmen intense workout with throwdowns using sidearm. Besides these five, physio Patrick Farhart, team manager Sunil Subramaniam, video analyst Dhananjaya, masseur, media manager and a security officer were also in attendance.

The three selectors on tour -- chairman MSK Prasad and his colleagues Jatin Paranjape and Gagan Khoda – also paid a visit to the practice session.

Manager turns his arm around

Once a cricketer, always a cricketer. Subramaniam, the team manager, may have played his last first-class game some 17 years ago and the bulky body may have replaced his once lean frame, but there is still the same bite, grip, flight and turn in his left-arm spin bowling that fetched him 285 wickets in 74 first-class matches for Tamil Nadu and Assam between 1888-89 and 2000-01.

The 52-year-old turned his arm around at India’s ‘nets’ with chairman of selectors M S K Prasad mock keeping for him. There was no run-up nor was there any loading, just stand and deliver and the ball did the same things on the synthetic floor what it did on the turf wicket during his heydays. As Subramaniam elicited appreciation from Prasad, Ravindra Jadeja – a left-arm spinner himself – appeared visibly impressed and paused to watch his bowling before resuming his batting.

Left-arm spinners galore

Talking of left-arm spinners, the Indian practice session had quite a few of them – former, present and potential future ones. While Subramaniam gave a glimpse of his old self, Shastri – the left-arm spinner-turned batting all-rounder – was watching over Virat Kohli’s batting. Sridhar, who was giving throwdowns, was also a left-arm spinner and has 91 sticks to his name from 35 first-class matches for Hyderabad.

Jadeja restricted himself to batting on the day though. And as the ‘nets’ wound down, Sridhar, along with Bharat Arun, had a short session with Bangar’s elder son – Aryan who is playing junior county game for Leicestershire. While Sridhar kept the wickets for the 18-year-old, Arun gave him tips after every delivery he bowled. And guess what? Aryan is also a left-arm spinner, who played for Puducherry this season!

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