The television cameras panned towards Rohit Sharma as the Indian captain stood at slips, closer to the stumps, and practised a bit of catching with the team’s fielding coach T. Dilip.
Assuming that a sluggish, turning track will be on offer for Sunday’s World Cup final against Australia, Rohit prepped himself up for the spinners at slips.
The drill continued for about 15 minutes before he walked up to the covered square at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday afternoon - for the second time - and was engaged in a long, animated discussion with head coach Rahul Dravid and his assistants.
The BCCI curators - Ashish Bhowmick and Taposh Chatterjee - joined shortly, along with local curator Jayesh Patel, and another round of intense discussion ensued.
Sportstar understands that the black soil pitch that was used for India’s game against Pakistan last month could be persisted with, and spinners will have a role to play on a slow surface. As the day progressed, heavy-rollers were used on the designated strip, with BCCI’s General Manager and former India fast bowler Abey Kuruvilla monitoring the process.
Over the last few days, the pitch has been the talking point after reports claimed that India’s semifinal fixture in Mumbai was switched to a used pitch, without keeping ICC’s independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson in the loop.
Though the ICC later sent a clarification that there is no rule of holding knock-out games on used pitches, and Atkinson was informed about the development in advance, the debates continued. Though reports claimed Atkinson had returned home, sources have confirmed to Sportstar that he is still with the ICC team in Ahmedabad.
Keeping the pitch talks aside, six members of the Indian team - Ravichandran Ashwin, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna and captain Rohit - were part of the optional training session that lasted nearly a couple of hours.
Ashwin, who has so far featured in a solitary game in the tournament, had a long bowling session, followed by a batting stint. He faced a few local net bowlers and took throwdowns from Nuwan Seneviratne. Captain Rohit, too, had a session with a local left-arm fast bowler and hit a few big shots, indicating that he was in shape ahead of the marquee game.
A gala affair
As India hopes to break its title jinx, the final will be a gala affair with an air show by Surya Kiran - the aerobatic team of the Indian Air Force - and a music programme.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be in attendance, while World Cup-winning captains from the previous editions have also been invited.
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