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India vs South Africa: KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane Sweat it Out as India Prepares for Centurion Challenge

Baidurjo Bhose |Cricketnext | Updated: January 11, 2018, 9:25 PM IST
India vs South Africa: KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane Sweat it Out as India Prepares for Centurion Challenge

(Image Credits: Baidurjo Bhose from Cape Town.)

Centurion: The Indians might have lost the opening game of the three-match Test series against South Africa in Cape Town from a winning situation, but Virat Kohli and boys know that this is there last chance to make a comeback in this series and that saw the boys slog it out at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Thursday morning.

Taking to the training ground at around 9:30am in the morning, the boys trained for as long as three hours under the scorching sun even as chief coach Ravi Shastri kept a close eye on proceedings. It all started with light warm-ups and a game of football, but it soon turned to serious fielding drills before the boys hit the nets at the back of the ground.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-11 at 1.08.07 PM

Interestingly, it was the bowlers who took first strike at the nets with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar walking in to bat. While one net had batting coach Sanjay Bangar giving throwdowns, the other two had the net bowlers and the Indian pacers going full throttle.

It was only after the bowlers had a longish session that Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul hit the nets, taking turns in throwdowns and facing the net bowlers. Rahul's starting the session with Kohli and Vijay can be a clear indication that he will be a part of the playing XI on Saturday. All this while, Shikhar dhawan was training batting against the cosco ball inside the main ground with R Sridhar using a tennis racquet to hit balls at him at pace.

After the trio was done at the nets, Cheteshwar Pujara walked in with both Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. In fact, both Kohli and Shastri was seen keeping a close eye on the duo as they batted against both throwdowns and the net bowlers. This leaves the question on who will be in the playing XI hanging in balance.

In fact, both were given an equal time at the nets even as both Shastri and Kohli stood there discussing strategies. Clearly, the team is still undecided if they want to include Rahane for Rohit. Interestingly, R Ashwin was seen walking around and going by the last Test where he hardly got a bowl, it could well be that India add another batsman in Rahane and drop Ashwin. That is surely an option considering that the wicket in Centurion is expected to be faster and shall assist pacers even more.

India pacer Jasprit Bumrah spoke to the media and said the team was not looking to plan too far ahead and wish to take things as they come and focus on doing the process right.

"We are not focussing on the result because when ever we look far ahead we drift away from the plan. We are taking each day at a time and take it forward from there. We are focusing on our preparation AS for as wicket go, I have not played over here and as far as net wicket goes, there is lot of bounce. We are looking to adapt to it and rectify the mistakes that we did in the first Test and go forward," he said.

Bumrah bowled well in the second innings after an average start to his Test career in the first innings and he said that all the wickets he got were special and he didn't want to point one.

"Any wicket in Test cricket, I am happy because that was just my first match. In the first innings we thought we bowled a little fuller than the normal because in India the wickets are different where we have to pitch fuller to get the swing and to get the batsmen on the front foot. Over here there is bounce, there is a little bit of difference. We analysed that and tried to adapt that in the second innings and as a unit we were able to create pressure, so that was the basic plan going into the second innings. That worked well. So hopefully, we will see videos of these wickets, what happens over here and we plan according to it.

"You know that sometimes the wicket over here is bouncy but as soon as you play the first match, you see it’s a flat wicket and then you have to adapt accordingly. So this is my basic plan always – never go by perceptions that this will happen and this won’t happen. Nowadays, anything can happen anywhere. So, day by day, learn from every session which you have, every experience which you have and analyse and go forward," he said.

Asked about the yorkers that have made him a special talent and working with bowling coach Bharat Arun, Bumrah said: "I use to play lot of tennis ball and it is not that I picked yorkers after training with someone. As a youngster you watch a bowl and you practice is at the backyard or at the ground. That was the basic thing, where I learned the yorker and I’m still trying to learn.

"He (Bharat Arun) has seen me since the time I walked in as a U19 boy at the NCA where he was the coach. He knows me and gives me good advice. He knows my bowling and as a player it is good to have a coach who knows my strengths and weakness," he said.

Bumrah is seen by any as a surprise package in the Test arena as he was till now a limited-overs specialist, but the pacer doesn't think about these things.

"I dont think about these things. I just wanted to be here and it is always a dream to play Test with all these players. Now I’ve played a Test and hopefully go and play more," he said.

Asked about adapting to these wickets, Bumrah said: "It’s always challenging whenever you come to a new country, the wickets are different, the weather is different. So, it’s always good to face new challenges. As you play more and more, you get to know a lot about the wickets, you get a fair idea about where to bowl and what kind of lines to bowl. It’s been good, I am still learning, hopefully in the further matches, I will be able to do better."
First Published: January 11, 2018, 6:18 PM IST

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