With Hardik Pandya set to miss the Lucknow tie against England and India continuing with the five-specialist-bowlers formula, the team management is banking on part-timers to bail the team out if one or more of the main men have an off day.
The key highlight of India’s first net session in Lucknow on Thursday was Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav rolling their arms over to cover for any contingencies during the game against the beleaguered holders. Kohli, who completed Hardik’s over in Pune against Bangladesh after the all-rounder went off due to an ankle injury, was the first to bowl, sending down around a dozen balls to captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill.
Surya was the one to bowl the most in the nets among the three designated to perform the sixth bowler’s role. He bowled to Rohit and Shreyas Iyer, and even deceived the latter, receiving a big hug from Ravichandran Ashwin.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 25, 2023
After bowling in tandem with the veteran off-spinner for a good 15 minutes, Surya joined Ravindra Jadeja at the adjoining nets, where the skipper was batting, bowling for a further 15 minutes there.
The most curious battle of the net session was between Mohammed Siraj the batsman and Gill the bowler.
The opening batsman bowled for at least half an hour to the opening bowler, and every time after beating the outside edge, he would shadow-practice the forward defence in an apparent coaching tip to Siraj.
With frontline batsmen rolling their arms over, the specialist bowlers fine-tuned their batting skills. Jasprit Bumrah was the first to hit the nets and batted for a good 45 minutes, taking throwdowns from batting coach Vikram Rathour.
Mohammed Shami and Ishan Kishan were the only two members of the squad who skipped the optional training session.
One of the key concerns about the Indian team ahead of the World Cup was the inability of their top-order batsmen to chip in with a few overs and the lack of reliability of their bowlers when it comes to contributing runs down the order. All-rounder Pandya’s unavailability for at least the next two games puts this facet under even more focus. He missed the game against New Zealand in Dharamsala last Sunday, and is at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru to be treated by a specialist from England.