COLOMBO: On Thursday morning, a few Indian players, mainly batters, had a training session at the Gamini Dissanayake Indoor Cricket Nets at the Nondescripts Cricket Club, Colombo. As it was pouring, the optional training session was held indoors with only batters training at the nets taking throwdowns. The session was India's first since September 1 ahead of their Asia Cup opener against Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
After their first match was abandoned, Rohit Sharma and Co decided not to train ahead of their Group A clash against Nepal at the same venue on September 4. Against Pakistan they chose to bat so when the coin flipped in their favour against Nepal, India preferred to field. But it turned out to be a horrific outing for Indian fielders as they grassed three catches inside five overs to let Nepal openers — Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh — add 65 runs in just 9.5 overs before the former departed. The bowlers then brought the team back in the game as India restricted their opponents to 230 and won the match by 10 wickets via the DLS method to make it to the Super Four stage.
But batting coach Vikram Rathour bemoaned the dropped chances after the match. "The wicket today was good, better than the last one during Pakistan. We could have been more disciplined. The three dropped catches helped them. They batted well... glad nothing major happened (because of the dropped catches). It was good to see how we responded to it (the target)," he had said on being asked about the sloppy fielding.
As Rathour said, the dismal performance on the field meant the fielding coach T Dilip was among the first to get out here at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Friday evening when India had an outdoor net session for the first time in an little over than a week. Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Tilak Varma and a few others were seen engaged in intense fielding drills. They first had a session throwing the balls at nets followed by catches at the boundary line. The players were divided into two groups for the purpose.
Once the players shifted to nets outside the ground, wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul, who had to miss the first two matches due to a niggle, did wicketkeeping drills with the fielding coach. Rahul, who underwent thigh surgery after sustaining an injury in May during an Indian Premier League match, will be playing his first ODI since March if he replaces Kishan in the playing XI against Pakistan on Sunday. He was included in the Asia Cup squad but a niggle had forced him out of the group stage matches. Rahul looked comfortable during the session as he dived towards his left and right without any discomfort. Once he departed, left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Shreyas Iyer and Shubhman Gill joined Dilip.
Once done with the fielding drills, the action shifted to practice nets outside the stadium with the players sweating it out for more than one-and-half-hours before rain played spoilsport again. Batters including Virat Kohli, Suryakumar, Iyer, Rahul, Kishan and others took turns to first take throwdowns before shifting to adjacent nets facing the pacers and tweakers simultaneously. Interestingly, it was Varma, who played the role of right-arm off-break bowler in the practice session.
The session, however, had to be halted abruptly with the sky suddenly opening up at around 9:40 pm. The players left soon thereafter. The Pakistan team is expected to train at the venue on Saturday morning.
The weather forecast, however, is not very encouraging. As has been the case for the past few days, rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday, the day when India plays Pakistan, with precipitation chances to be around 90 per cent on both days.