The Indian team hotel resembled a fortress. Most players, with a few exceptions, spent the day cooling off.
Out in the arena, though, the Indian fortress was breached in Nagpur. On a surface that offered appreciable turn, its much-vaunted batting line-up lay in tatters.
Now Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men find themselves under mounting pressure. Ahead of the big game against Pakistan on Saturday, the Indian team needs to keep the negative thoughts of possible 'shock' elimination from the competition out. The trick, as they say, is in the mind.
Ideally, both India and Pakistan would have wanted full practice sessions on Thursday. However, the last-minute change in venue from Dharamshala to Kolkata and the Sri Lanka-Afghanistan game in the evening here made such an exercise difficult.So only a handful of players ventured out to the Eden Gardens to follow their own personal training schedule.
Ideally, a surface favouring batting, such as the one that was prepared here for the Pakistan-Bangladesh duel on Wednesday, should suit India.
The Indian batsmen are at their destructive best on flat tracks. On seaming wickets with bounce and on surfaces that offer turn, this line-up is quite vulnerable; more so in the shorter formats, where the two best technically equipped batsmen in the country — M. Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane — are marginalised. Vijay has been left out of the ODI and Twenty20 teams, while Rahane often struggles to break into the XI.
This comes back to bite the team in conditions favouring bowlers.
Let's take the nightmarish duel for India against an honest but limited bunch of Kiwi spinners at Nagpur. The target was gettable but what India needed against the spinners was decisive footwork, where the length is shortened, and softer hands.
The Indian batsmen do plenty of damage on flat tracks with their bat-speed. The footwork is limited — the transfer of weight, such a critical aspect of batsmanship, is a casualty — but the speed and power of these bats send the ball a long way.
Source The Hindu