Indian camp gets underway with players showing sublime form

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Kolkata, Nov 2 (UNI) The cricketers showed a sublime touch as Team India's two-day conditioning camp for the Pakistan series got underway today without any jitters as the sun God smiled on Eden Gardens here after the rains played truant for the past 48-hours.

The Indian team looked energetic as they walked into the stadium at around 1630 hours and went through the fitness regime before the nets started.

The younger lot consisting of Rohit Sharma and Pravin Kumar along with Robin Uthappa looked quite sprightly during the fitness regime.

First to bat at the nets were Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, followed by Rohit Sharma and skipper M S Dhoni. Next Irfan Pathan and Robin Uthappa batted before the bowlers had their chance.

Largely because of the soggy outfield, the CAB authorities put up the nets on the second and third pitch of the Eden Gardens with the first pitch on which the Bengal-Hyderabad match is scheduled to be played from Sunday, was firmly covered.

One of the nets was used by the spinners where Murali Kaarthik, Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh played their trade to the batsmen.

Manager Lalchand Rajput rolled his arms for off-breaks to Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

The other net was occupied by the pacers where Sreeshanth, Irfan Pathan, R P Singh and Zaheer Khan bowled before Sourav Ganguly joined them.

Along with the Indian pacers, Nigel, an all rounder from Lancashire minor county, who signed for local Kalighat club for the CAB cricket league, also rolled his arm to the Indian batsmen.

While Sachin and Sourav looked to be in vintage form cutting, driving and even playing lofted shots with consummate ease, Uthappa was impressive with his bat.

Sreeshanth and R P Singh bowled with some zing, and Zaheer looked nippy and measured as ever. Murali in fact deceived Sachin once to clean up his off-stick.

While bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad kept a keen eye over the bowlers, Robin Singh gave fielding practice to the players, that included regular catching, knocking the stumps and slip catching.

The Indian team had three notable absentees in Gautam Gambhir, who played the warm-up match against Pakistan today, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.

Before the practice session, Rajput talking about the series said, ''Indo-Pak duels belong to a different level.'' Talking about Mohammad Asif's injury, he said, '' No single player has any impact on the series as it is a high-pressure one. '' Asked to make a statement on the absence of Rahul Dravid and Inzamam-ul Haq, Rajput said, '' Ultimately, the results will be decided by the players who take the field. It will be a tough series. Both teams have a 50:50 chance. '' Talking to UNI, CAB secretary Samar Pal said, '' The players are very happy with the facilities provided to them at the Eden Gardens.

They praised the work done by the support staff for getting the ground ready after such an inclement weather. '' ''We also have the indoor facility ready. They can use it if they want to,'' he added.

He informed that the Indian team will do a practice session from 0830 hours tomorrow and will again have another fielding and fitness session in the evening.

UNI

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