Coronavirus: India in two minds about using saliva to shine ball

India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar says the team has thought about not using saliva to shine the ball amid the threat of coronavirus, as it gears up to face South Africa.

India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar shadow-practices during a practice session ahead of the first ODI against South Africa in Dharamsala   -  AFP

Amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus and with the rain clouds in attendance, the India and South Africa teams chose to take it easy on the eve of the first One-Day International in Dharamsala on Wednesday.

The Indians had an “optional session” on the ground ahead of Thursday’s clash, while the South Africans opted for a brief feel of the nets in the stadium complex before heavy rain came down.

South Africa skipper Quinton de Kock underlined the importance of the presence of his predecessor Faf du Plessis, who’s back in the squad after a break during the series against the visiting Australians.

Acknowledging that the team’s bowling lacked experience, de Kock said, “Obviously we understand that we have come here with quite an inexperienced (bowling) side in these conditions, but obviously it’s important for guys like Faf, me, David Miller to help out these guys.”

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Describing India as an “unbelievable team,” de Kock said, “They’ve got great bowlers, great batsmen. But I’m sure we’ve come in here with a lot of confidence and I’m sure we’ll have a good series anyway.”

Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, back after undergoing sports hernia surgery in London in January, was quick to underline the importance of winning the series.

“Every international match is important and we know how people react when we lose, like we saw against New Zealand. Individually, too, triumphs impact the self-belief of the performers,” said the soft-spoken medium pacer.

Both de Kock and Bhuvneshwar were asked about the pacers using saliva on the ball amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

In response, de Kock said, “Our team doctors and management have made sure all are fit and don’t have coronavirus. So we’ll attend to that to still keep the ball shining.”

Bhuvneshwar wasn’t as sure. “Right now, I can’t say. But if we don’t use saliva and get hit, then you people (from the media) will say you didn’t bowl well. In any case, we’ll follow our doctor’s advice in dealing with coronavirus.”

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