ICC World Cup: 'Coach' Dhoni prepares Suresh Raina for short balls
India skipper plays coach, armed with tennis balls for talented southpaw all-rounder ahead of Thursday's action-packed ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final against co-hosts Australia
Sydney: The Indian cricket team seemed visibly dissatisfied with the Sydney Cricket Ground strip that greeted them yesterday morning here.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni serves down tennis balls to Suresh Raina during a net session at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
Though there is no official word from the Indian team on the matter, a couple of incidents just before their first training session in preparation of Thursday's World Cup semi-final against Australia, suggests that the green tinge on the surface may not be to their liking.
India in a spot of bother
The Indian team arrived at the venue around 10:15 am yesterday and as they walked towards the dressing room, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin moved away and straight away went to have a look at the pitch.
Rohit Sharma takes a break after his net session yesterday. The India opener scored a brilliant 137 against Bangladesh in the quarter-final
After staring at it for a couple of minutes, he returned to the dressing room, and about 10 minutes later, members of the Indian team management — team director Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, manager Arshad Ayub and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni — all went out to the centre to have a look at the 22-yard strip.
At first glance, the green tinge on the wicket is very evident, suggesting that it could well be tailormade for the Australian pacers.
However, according to sources, since there are still three days to go for the match, things could change and a browner, spin-friendly surface could be in the offing for the defending champions.
Pacer Umesh Yadav during India's training session yesterday, Pics/AP, AFP
The Indian team however, is not taking any chances, and an intense batting session focussed on the short stuff yesterday, was proof of this. Skipper Dhoni was specifically training his middle-order batsman Suresh Raina with a tennis ball. Dhoni was serving down the balls short and quick for Raina to negotiate.
Raina finds it tough
The skipper was smartly angling his racquet, inward and outward, to deliberately generate lateral movement of the ball, which Raina initially found tough to handle.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan later joined the exercise and received similar serve-downs from a member of the support staff.
It is said that there are no short cuts to success, but going by the Indian team's preparation in the nets yesterday, their 'short cut' could well see them succeed on Thursday.