With West Indies not of­fer­ing much re­sis­tance, Kohli & Co aim to sharpen their game in the 3rd ODI

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - PUNJAB - HT@ WINDIES KHURRAM HABIB

NORTH SOUND: Fol­low­ing three days of bright sun­shine and swel­ter­ing heat, it rained on Wed­nes­day night and Thurs­day morn­ing, leav­ing Fri­day’s third ODI be­tween In­dia and West Indies to the mercy of the weather.

In­dia lead the se­ries 1-0 with three games to go. Thank­fully, un­like the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, this ground has good drainage fa­cil­i­ties, eas­ily among the best in the world. If the cu­ra­tor is to be be­lieved, it’ll take only half an hour to drain the wa­ter left by two-inch rain.

The In­di­ans trained on Wed­nes­day with the top three get­ting a long stint at the nets, in­ter­est­ingly with not a soul to watch them. How­ever, Thurs­day’s prac­tice had to be called off.

De­spite los­ing so much time, the In­di­ans are not com­plain­ing with skip­per Vi­rat Kohli terming it good for team bond­ing.

This tour has been a get­away, if any­thing, he said on Thurs­day. More than sort­ing out de­fi­cien­cies in skill and team com­po­si­tion, it is prov­ing to be a team bond­ing ex­er­cise. The In­dian team vis­ited Jolly Beach and played vol­ley­ball, ate there with no one around as An­tigua has no In­dian pop­u­la­tion or tourists.

Ear­lier, the rain and sparse crowd in Trinidad also al­lowed them plenty of time off to re­lax.

“We’ve had enough of prac­tice. Am re­ally not too both­ered (about rains wash­ing away prac­tice ses­sions), be­cause it is a good op­por­tu­nity to have a day off and do some­thing to­gether as a team and en­joy what­ever we have on hand,” said Vi­rat Kohli.

“You can walk around, it is pretty peace­ful. From that point of view it is quite re­lax­ing for ev­ery­one just to be close to na­ture.”

The In­dia skip­per feels these are rare op­por­tu­ni­ties. “It is im­por­tant to grab these op­por­tu­ni­ties and stick to­gether.

Guys train­ing to­gether, stick­ing to­gether, try­ing to find things to do to­gether, I think it re­ally helps to bond and it re­ally helps you un­der­stand each other much bet­ter.

“This team is a very closely knit unit and we all get along with each other re­ally well. You won’t see any­one hang­ing out sep­a­rately and things like that, we all min­gle and hang out to­gether.”

The fact that the home bats­men and bowlers have looked in­ept al­lows In­dia to take it easy and be not too wor­ried. Windies coach Stu­art Law pointed out the other day that his charges are in­ex­pe­ri­enced and are look­ing to learn from this se­ries.

How­ever, de­spite things be­ing easy, there are some per­sonal bat­tles be­ing fought in the In­dian camp. There are un­likely to be any changes in the In­dia team, es­pe­cially with even Ajinkya Ra­hane -- he scored a fifty and a hun­dred that won him the Manof-the-Match -- get­ting a chance to play only be­cause Ro­hit Sharma has been rested. Shikhar Dhawan too had made his come­back only for the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, and Yu­vraj Singh is try­ing to make a case for him­self while spin­ner R Ash­win needs wick­ets.

So, de­spite In­dia’s dom­i­na­tion, there are con­tests to be won with spots at stake. En­sur­ing a healthy com­pe­ti­tion is per­haps do­ing the team a world of good.


Vi­rat Kohli had a long net ses­sion at the Viv Richards sta­dium in An­tigua on Thurs­day.

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