Jovial Pakistan train indoors as rain threat looms large
England's freaky weather is threatening Saturday's ICC Champions Trophy clash between India and Pakistan.
After yesterday's New Zealand versus Australia match was washed out, it rained most of the day here today. The weatherman has predicted rain over the weekend too. Pakistan's plans for an outdoor session at the Edgbaston cricket ground this afternoon was ruined by the elements.
Rains almost throughout the afternoon forced the Pakistan players to train at the indoor nets in the Edgbaston Cricket Centre. The Indians were not scheduled to train. Only Irfan Pathan and Murli Vijay turned up for some batting practice but had to beat a hasty retreat because the entire Edgbaston square, including the practice wickets, were under covers.
Pakistan looked a happy bunch turning up in small groups from their hotel. Saaed Ajmal and the tall pacer Muhammad Irfan were the first to arrive while skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and coach Dav Whatmore turned up later in the team bus. "Can you see any hint of tension in the boys?" asked Pakistan's team manager Naveed Akram Cheema. "The boys are just fine and enjoying themselves here."
With several former cricketers criticising the team for their Champions Trophy performance, the media here has been kept at arm's length. Citing a Pakistan Cricket Board diktat, Cheema said, "Can't help you with interviews as I am only following instructions." With nothing but honour at stake, the Pakistan manager, however, said the players were looking forward to the India match.
"It's no point looking back. We will be playing at Birmingham which has been a good ground for us," he said. In the 2004 Champions Trophy, Pakistan had beaten India by three wickets at Edgbaston in September.