Spotlight on Dhawan and Bumrah As Team India Practice Hard at Newlands

Baidurjo Bhose , Cricketnext
Team India is leaving no stones unturned as they prepare for the opening Test of the three-game series between India and South Africa starting at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town from Friday. With the game less than two days away, Virat Kohli and boys trained for close to three hours on the square even as the groundsmen kept rolling the match wicket with a heavy roller.

Skipper Kohli can breathe easy as opener Shikhar Dhawan, down with an ankle injury, was seen training full throttle on Wednesday. There were serious doubts on his fitness and there was a strong belief that third opener KL Rahul would have to do the job with Dhawan unfit for the game. But Dhawan started off with a warm-up run around the picturesque stadium before he ran a few short sprints.

After that, he padded up and hit the centre nets after opening partner Murali Vijay had a short hit. While Vijay looked his usual confident self against the bowlers, there was no sense of discomfort as Dhawan drove and cut with ease. There was no hesitancy in his movement as he rocked back on the back foot with ease just like he came forward against the net bowlers.

Speaking to CricketNext, a member in the team management said that Dhawan was fine and wasn't in any pain. BCCI later confirmed the same with a mail even as Ravindra Jadeja was declared unavailable for the game as he is down with viral infection. Whether Dhawan will start or not will depend on the skipper and coach Ravi Shastri.

In fact, Dhawan had a long chat with chief selector MSK Prasad before hitting the nets. They were discussing strategies with movement of the hands as coach Shastri stood behind the nets and looked at Vijay take strike against the net bowlers.

After Vijay and Dhawan were done with their hits, it was the turn of Cheteshwar Pujara followed by Kohli. While Pujara had a slightly shorter session, Kohli trained long and hard and the only bowler who looked to be causing him problems was new entrant in the Test outfit, Jasprit Bumrah. His movement off the seam caused the Indian skipper to edge a couple of them. But Kohli was back at his best against the spin of R Ashwin, set to be the lone spinner if India do decide to have variety in the attack.

After Kohli walked out, Rohit Sharma took strike and that was quite a surprise as it looked till then that the Indians were batting according to the game line-up. But Rohit came first and then came Ajinkya Rahane. While Rohit was his elegant self, even hitting a bouncer off Bumrah into the square-leg stands, Rahane decided to play it cautious and was happy to work on a compact defence. Ravi Shastri was all the while keeping a close eye on the batsmen, first standing behind the nets and then standing in the umpire's position.

Bharat Arun too was seen discussing a few tactics with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma. Umesh first bowled at the practice wickets before going half throttle at the main wicket. By the looks of it, Umesh could be the second choice in the battery of pacers.

While the batters and bowlers worked on their skills, coach R Sridhar was busy giving the players catching and fielding practice turn by turn. The three hour session makes it clear that the Indians are training hard to start the series with a bang.

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