The Indians are getting really serious as the ICC Champions Trophy enters its home stretch. For the first time in the tournament on Tuesday, unbeaten India decided to train outdoors, two full days before their semifinal against Sri Lanka here. (Loss to India in warm-up is behind us: Mahela)
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So far in the competition, the Indians have trained outdoors only a day ahead of their games. The players has generally confined themselves to their hotel rooms and remained elusive to fans and the Press. But Tuesday afternoon saw a definite shift in approach and attitude. What was supposed to be optional training became a full-fledged session, complete with at least five nets bowlers from the Glamorgan County club. (Dhoni urges high-flying mates to stay grounded)
It was a cloudy morning in Cardiff. There was a hint of rain around noon and Suresh Raina turned up more than an hour before the rest of the squad along with fielding coach Trevor Penney. Raina and Penney went through various batting drills with the Salisbury-born former Warwick's' all-rounder simulating different match situations.
"Back of length and seaming," and "a bit of Dilshan" were the two main bowling types that Raina and Penney experimented with. Like true-IPL style, the talented Raina gave the ball a solid whack. He will have to do a lot of that against the Lankans. (Watch: India vs Sri Lanka - A case of over familiarity)
The Sophia Gardens' shorter side boundaries should see a lot of big hits square of the wicket. Glamorgan's chief groundsman Keith Exton reckons 280 should be a par score on a wicket that should see a bit of bounce. He adds, "300 should be really good." (Photo gallery: Team India stay united with football and when the Men in Blue sign autographs)
A brand new wicket is being prepared for Thursday's second semifinal between India and Sri Lanka. Exton says there will be a bit of spin but "won't turn square."
"It will be a good batting pitch but the ball will do a bit early one," Exton said, adding the new pitch will have a bit of grass cover "but nothing to be scared of."
The last time Team India was here for the Champions Trophy opener versus South Africa on June 6 they stayed in a hotel right in the heart of the City Centre. This time around, the Indians have moved to a hotel overlooking the picturesque Cardiff Bay. But there is one small problem. There is no SKY Sports in their rooms and the players are looking for an alternative to watch Wednesday's first semifinal between England and South Africa at The Oval!