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ICC World Cup 2019 | Away From Spotlight, India Step Up the Intensity Ahead of Opener Against South Africa

Karthik Lakshmanan |June 2, 2019, 2:19 PM IST
ICC World Cup 2019 | Away From Spotlight, India Step Up the Intensity Ahead of Opener Against South Africa

Southampton: Imagine yourself attending the most crucial interview in your life, only to find that your turn is still a while away. You're watching competitors pass by and get started, while you have no option but to go through the restless waiting time, trying to pick up notes and pointers that could help you when your turn comes eventually.

The Indian team is in a similar situation at the World Cup. The action has well and truly begun, but India are far away from the noise, sticking to themselves in quiet and serene Southampton.

By the time India play their first match - against South Africa at the Ageas Bowl on June 5 - five teams would have played two matches each. It includes hosts England, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The remaining four teams - West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh - would have played one match each.

South Africa, India's opponent on Wednesday, don't arrive at Southampton until Monday. India couldn't have asked for a calmer start to their campaign - there's no buzz, no noise. It's just the Indian team left to themselves with no external disturbances. Why, there are hardly any journalists around the team too, with only a handful to watch them train on Saturday.

Two things can happen in such situations when the wait gets longer. You can either focus on your competitors and get nervous, or be confident about your preparations and stay in your zone. India are watching other Asian teams - Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan - struggle against pace and bounce, but they are likely to fall in the latter category. They are training every alternate day; they had sessions on Thursday and Saturday, and don't practise on Sunday. On Friday, they had a team bonding activity playing 'paintball'.

Jadhav injury update

In many ways, the late start is the best they could have asked. It gives them a bit more time after the IPL, which ended on May 12. The gap also allows their injured players ample time to recover.

The biggest in focus has been Kedar Jadhav, who injured his shoulder on May 5 in an IPL game. By the time India begin their World Cup campaign, he'd have had a full month to recover.

By the evidence of the typically carefree manner in which he batted on Saturday, Jadhav has made good progress with his recovery. He went through the paces in a full-fledged session, playing all sorts of shot without any pain. This was the second time he has batted since his injury; Jadhav did not play in either of India's warm up matches.

Jadhav did not bowl in the nets, but much need not be made out of it as it was his non-bowling arm that was injured.

Another minor injury concern since they arrived in England is Vijay Shankar, who injured his forearm before their first warm up match. However, he batted and bowled in the second warm up game. With KL Rahul scoring a century against Bangladesh and all but sealing the No. 4 slot, Jadhav's progress could determine Vijay's inclusion for the two of them are the sixth bowling options. Vijay too had an extended session, batting and bowling in the nets.

The only missing batsman in the Indian nets was Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder had fitness sessions with trainer Shankar Basu, presumably to strengthen his core and back, before he bowled for a brief while. Pandya, who had a back injury before the IPL, had played both the warm-up matches although he didn't bowl in the second one.

The long wait gives the players enough time to work on their minor niggles. The team should enjoy every bit of the wait though, for they play their first four matches in 12 days. A stern test awaits once they get rolling: India's first four matches are all biggies - South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

7 6 1 0 12 +0.90
7 5 1 1 11 +1.02
5 4 0 1 9 +0.80
7 4 3 0 8 +1.05
7 3 3 1 7 -0.13
7 3 3 1 7 -0.97
6 2 2 2 6 -1.11
6 1 4 1 3 +0.19
7 1 5 1 3 -0.32
7 0 7 0 0 -1.63

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4674 111
5 Australia 4805 109
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more