“Watch the training today. You will see a very good vibe,” Pakistan coach Grant Bradburn told a packed CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) media room at the Eden Gardens on Monday.
His boys echoed the sentiment, all appearing to be in good spirits, as they broke off into a brisk run sans captain Babar Azam ahead of a tough session. Babar, meanwhile, sauntered to the middle a while later and could be seen engaged in an animated conversation with team director Mickey Arthur as the covers were taken off the surface for the first time.
Following a few Theraband routines, wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan was the first person to pad up and walk towards the net set up adjacent to the track where the ball kept dangerously low during the match between the Netherlands and Bangladesh. He was facing bowling coach Morne Morkel, and for a brief while, it seemed one was back in South Africa’s Morkel-Vernon Philander era when the pacer kept hitting the deck hard to help Rizwan perfect his upper cut. The right-handed Rizwan even had to duck on a couple of occasions to avoid the odd perfume ball.
In the two side nets, batters Abdullah Shafique and Fakhar Zaman tried to middle against net bowlers before Pakistan’s very own ’slinger’ Zaman Khan marked his run-up. Babar had a hit in the centre-wicket nets as well after Rizwan trudged out to spare some time and interact with a few children who had made their way into the Sourav Ganguly stand.
“Brother, (Virat) Kohli will play here on his birthday (November 5, India vs South Africa). Do you have any wishes for him?” a man, seemingly in his thirties, asked.
“ Sirf mohabbat hai. Inshallah, idhar unka 49th kya 50th hundred bhi ho jaaye (I only have love for him. God be willing, may he get both his 49th and 50th ODI century here),” pat came the reply. Rizwan was probably wishing Kohli a double hundred.
While a full-strength Pakistan team sweated it out on the field, only a select few Bangladesh players could be seen lurking around the park a while later. Captain Shakib Al Hasan batted on for more than 90 minutes, which drew a cheeky comment from one Bangladeshi photojournalist seated under the BC Roy Clubhouse. “Somebody, please remind Shakib brother to go home. He must be tired,” he said. Everybody around him burst into laughter. Even a few ICC events personnel appreciated the joke.
Interestingly, the left-handed troika of Shoriful Islam, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, and Taskin Ahmed were the ones who largely hogged the side nets under lights. They faced three Roboarm throwdown specialists before switching to playing a barrage of offspin from the net bowlers.
At deep square leg, the Tigers’ fielding coach Shane McDermott was helping Tanzim Hasan Sakib hone his boundary riding skills with some catching practice. It did increasingly get difficult as the dew came on later in the evening, and a few burst through the 21-year-old’s fingers.
Pakistan and Bangladesh are sixth and ninth on the ICC World Cup 2023 standings, respectively, and both require wins to keep themselves in contention for a top-four spot.
- WPL 2024: All-round show helps Delhi Capitals thrash UP Warriorz by nine wickets for season’s first win
- Hard work, determination and a bit of kismet: For RCB’s Asha Sobhana, WPL is just the start
- Indian sports wrap, February 26
- NBA: Clippers unveil new uniforms, logo for next season
- Bayern Munich signs Max Eberl as sporting director