LONDON: “Could you please keep quiet? It will be much appreciated,” said M Vijay, turning towards a couple of Indian fans standing just behind the nets and trying to take pictures of the batsmen.
The chatter stopped immediately, but what it showed was the amount of intensity at the Indian nets as they tried to prepare themselves against the onslaught of James Anderson & Co. Every Indian batsman has made the conscious decision of following the Virat Kohli template when it comes to countering the swing by standing outside the crease. None of them, including Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, are half as comfortable dealing with the swing as Kohli is, but the efforts are there to see.
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Coach Ravi Shastri, who stationed himself at the pacers’ net, kept shouting instructions, and it was clear that whatever the difficulties are, there is no running away from the Kohli approach. Even if there’s movement and bounce in the Lord’s pitch, the Indian middle-order will take this route to make a match of it. “They made the choice and they did it in the practice game as well. They feel there are a lot more options in doing that rather than staying back in the crease. You’re cutting the amount of swing that the bowler can get by going closer to the ball and I guess it worked pretty well for the batsmen,” bowling coach Bharat Arun said.
‘Coach’ Kohli advises bowlers too
By ‘batsmen’ Arun probably meant Kohli, who scored 200 runs in the bag in the first Test. The Indian captain was in a different league during the training session on Tuesday as well. You hardly get to see a batsman talking a lot to bowlers while batting. It’s often the other way around. But Kohli was so confident about his batting, middling virtually everything that was on offer, that he didn’t mind shouting instructions to the bowlers on where they were going right or wrong.
One time, Kuldeep Yadav beat him with one that spun away, and the captain immediately applauded the effort. “Badiya (excellent) drift, I didn’t expect that,” Kohli said, as a smile broke out on the left-arm spinner’s face.
The real test was supposed to be the pacers’ net, where Ishant and Umesh were ready to spit fire. But that’s where the mastery of the man came into display. He kept telling his two premier pacers the line that they should bowl. The pacers did their best to impress their skipper, but Kohli just didn’t have any issue dealing with whatever was thrown at him.
Pandya’s role under the scanner
Meanwhile, Hardik Pandya, who didn’t get much of a bowl in the first Test, was among the first to get into the nets trying to get his line and length right. He looked impressive in his short burst and coach Arun said that it’s a good sign if the team doesn’t need to bowl him too much in match situations.
“It means that the other bowlers are doing the job. He’s technically pretty good and is of great potential for us. Hardik did an exceptionally good job for us in South Africa,” Arun told reporters here.