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    Team India skips training again

    Perth: After getting mauled inside three days at the Western Australia Cricket Association ground, one would have expected the Indian cricket team to congregate for a team bonding if not a net session on the morning after their loss to Australia in the third Test here. But there was no such thing for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's under-fire team that has become an object of ridicule in Australia as well as in India.

    In fact, they were given an off-day on Monday after their innings and 37-run loss to Michael Clarke's Australians. A practice session is scheduled for Tuesday before they leave for Adelaide. It is learnt that there will also be no practice session in Adelaide on Thursday and Friday. Only January 21, 22 and 23 are slated for training. The Test starts on January 24.

    Stand-in skipper for the fourth Test, Virender Sehwag was seen on Monday going out for lunch and dinner with his family. Ditto his opening partner Gautam Gambhir. Sachin Tendulkar spent a good deal of time in the hotel swimming pool while VVS Laxman invested some time in the hotel gymnasium. Rahul Dravid went out for dinner with Abhimanyu Mithun and R Vinay Kumar at an Indian restaurant called Balti at St Georges Terrace in Perth.

    It is learnt that coach Duncan Fletcher had one-on-one discussions with the players and stressed to them the importance of winning the remaining Test on the tour.

    The players cannot be criticised for indulging in various activities because they are not violating any team rules, but shouldn't the team bosses have insisted on an on-field session when the Test ended two days before the scheduled close? This no-practice theory sends the importance of team bonding for a toss.

    The image aspect

    There is also the image aspect. Knowing fully well the angst among cricket lovers in Australia and India, it wouldn't hurt the team to send out the right kind of signals to their fans -- that they are as concerned about the loss as them and something is being done to arrest the slide.

    Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar stressed on Monday: "It sure will be interesting to see what the players will do now that they have two more days off. Hopefully, they will show some good sense and not do anything that will raise the hackles of their supporters."

    Gavaskar most probably meant getting together for a session. Dhoni and Co must realise that the fans are important stakeholders of the game. They need to be appeased even if it means the team members indulging in a bit of Public Relations.