India trains indoors, New Zealand calls off training due to wet outfield

Ahead of the second Test, the Indian team sweats it out at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex.

Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid take a look at the pitch at the Wankhede Stadium. - SHAYAN ACHARYA

As the groundsmen at the Wankhede Stadium worked on war-footing to get the pitch ready for the second Test, the Indian team went in for a training session at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex indoor facility on Thursday.

With incessant rain owing to a low-pressure area having developed in the Arabian Sea off the northern Maharashtra coastline, neither India nor New Zealand could have a look at the surface on Wednesday and had to call off their training sessions.

But on Thursday, on the eve of the crucial fixture, the Indian cricketers - who had an optional training session - sweated it out at the indoor arena. Head coach Rahul Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour, bowling coach Paras Mhambrey and captain Virat Kohli, however, visited the Wankhede to take a look at the wicket. They were seen discussing a thing or two with the groundsmen.

ALSO READ - Focus on the Wankhede wicket

“It looks like a typical Wankhede wicket. We expect to have some nice bounce, there is value for all kinds of bowlers at the Wankhede and when you bat, you can get runs as well. It is a great wicket for good cricket and all skill sets are in the play all the time, which is a great position to be in because then you know you can utilise your resources very well. The team that does it better has more chances of winning the Test match,” Kohli said.

“So you go in with the knowledge that you can utilise your bowlers - whether it is fast bowlers or spinners - and your batters can find value in playing good shots, in being solid at the crease and still believing that you can score runs, even if the situation is difficult, you can play a very good knock from thereon, because the pitch allows you to do so.”

'Great cricket wicket'

The India captain also stated that this is “a pitch which demands a lot of discipline,” but at the same time, the rewards of the discipline are also much higher in the percentage as compared to some of the other venues, where spin might be dominant and fast bowlers don’t come into play. “But at the Wankhede, that has never been the case. All the fast bowlers, especially in red-ball cricket, really enjoy playing on this patch and even the batsmen love batting here. A great cricketing wicket,” Kohli stated.

The New Zealand team called off its training schedule owing to ‘wet ground’, even though the players visited the stadium later in the afternoon to have a look at the surface and set up the changing room and the viewing area.

Later in the evening, the New Zealand team officials confirmed that they chose not to train at the indoor venue as it was not deemed to be within the bio-bubble. "The conditions indoors were also unlikely to be similar to the ground," the officials said.

The Wankhede strip looks pretty bald with grass shaved off, and it is expected that the wicket could help the fast bowlers on the first day, with the spinners joining the party from the second day onwards. On Tuesday, a team of groundsmen, under the supervision of BCCI chief curator Ashish Bhowmick, specifically attended the good-length spots at both ends.

However, with forecasts of scattered showers on Friday, it will be interesting to see what strategy and combination the teams adopt. The iconic Wankhede Stadium will be hosting a Test match after exactly five years, and all eyes will be on the sky!


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