CUTTACK: Rested for the truncated ODI series against West Indies, India’s spin bowling all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin seems determined to make his comeback to the team a remarkable one. The extra effort the Chennai off-spinner put into his bowling and batting at the first practice session here at Barabati Stadium on Friday, before Sunday’s first one-dayers against Sri Lanka, said it all.
For a change, Ashwin was the first player to get inside the net for batting practice. The seriousness he showed against the pacers and spinners, it made amply clear that he is keen to make a mark with the bat, something that he has at the Test level. His hunger for workout was also evident in his bowling efforts. In three long spells, the right-arm bowler tried several permutations and combinations with the intention to iron out the flaws. And he was the last man to leave.
While Ashwin stood out among the Indians at the three-hour-long practice session, others did not fall behind. Speedsters Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and leggie Amit Mishra bowled multiple spells, knowing fully well that a few notable performances in the five-match series will help them cement their places in the team before the World Cup.
In the absence of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has been rested, stand-in skipper Virat Kohli led the Men in Blue quite efficiently at the training session. He along with leading batsmen Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha worked hard at the nets. It was evident from Saha’s batting that the Bengal stumper has fully recovered from the right-hand injury he had suffered during the recent Duleep Trophy semifinal against South Zone.
In the absence of the Sri Lanka team, which arrived in Bhubaneswar in the afternoon, the Indians had the luxury of using four nets, instead of the customary two marked for each team for the practice session.
Meanwhile, Odisha Cricket Association curator Pankaj Patnaik predicted that the pitch at Barabati Stadium, which normally plays slow and low, would behave in a different manner this time. “This will not be a traditional Barabati track, which plays low and slow. It will be sporting wicket. It will have good bounce and carry,” he said.
Patnaik was of the opinion that the wicket will be full of runs. “It can produce 270 to 300 runs,” he claimed. He however indicated that the toss and dew may play important roles in the outcome of the match, which will be the 19th ODI at Barabati.