India put mind on matter ahead of Pak clash
ADELAIDE, February 13
If the Indians are looking for inspiration, the venue of their practice session on Thursday could not have been better.
Founded in 1847, St Peter’s College is noted for its famous alumni, including three Nobel laureates, 42 Rhodes scholars and 10 Australian premiers (chief ministers of states). Of course, they have not produced cricketers of repute, but the scenic location right opposite the Adelaide Zoo, some 10 minutes drive from their hotel, was a welcome change for the Indian team, away from the peering eyes of the fans.
The casual atmosphere, with students young and old on the boundary edges, galvanised the players to sweat it out for over three hours in hot sun.
India were without their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for half the session, because after completing his batting stint in the nets, he drove away to catch a flight to Melbourne to attend the opening ceremony there on Friday.
The most heartening aspect of Team India’s efforts at the picturesque college ground was that they concentrated on the element which was an eyesore during the warm-up matches – their fielding.
They had dropped a few catches and the general standard was below par. The extra effort they put in to improve their fielding in almost match-like situation was what they needed ahead of their clash against Pakistan on Sunday.
An interesting feature of India’s practice session was the use of two mini-stools to throw down balls at the batsmen. A support staff climbed up the stools to throw down deliveries at the batsmen from a height to counter the prospect of facing the 7-foottall Pakistani paceman Mohammed Irfan.
The Indian team feels that as he will deliver the ball from a great height, he would be able to generate steep bounce, making life miserable for batsmen. This novel method should have given the Indian batsmen some confidence to tackle him on Sunday.
Away from the main nets, a match of sorts was on between teammates with proper field placements and a batsman at each end. With fielders placed at strategic spots Mohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami sent the ball soaring for their mates to attempt to catch them.
Once done with the bat, the duo bowled for a long period, trying to stick to line and length, as coach Duncan Fletcher watched keenly.
Amidst all this, team director Ravi Shastri and captain Dhoni found time to have a long discussion before the latter took off for Melbourne.
Before that Dhoni had some decent hit at the nets – he timed a few deliveries well and hammered them high and handsome to bring about a loud cheer from the students gathered there.
The last act came from Virat Kohli, who played some exquisite shots often clearing the field easily. One only hopes he displays such fluency in the upcoming match too.
Umesh Yadav worked up a good pace and beat the batsmen on occasions. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a quiet session and he bowled a few delivers only towards the end, giving an indication the he may well not be 100% fit and may not be played in the opening match. Interestingly, Dhawal Kulkarni, not a part of the World Cup squad, bowled for a much longer time along with the rest of the pacers.
10 facts about India-Pakistan match in Adelaide
For many, ICC Cricket World Cup 2015’s “final” is on Sunday at Adelaide Oval and not on March 29 at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The blockbuster contest on Sunday (February 15) features India and Pakistan. This high-voltage match is eagerly awaited for many months now. And for numerous fans, this is the “final” and the biggest game of the tournament. India will be confident going into the day-nighter as they have won all 5 previous encounters against the neighbours.
Here are 10 important facts about the big match in Adelaide
1. This will be the first India-Pakistan World Cup game without Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket in 2013. He played in all 5 previous ones (1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2011), winning Man-of-the-match awards thrice (1992, 2003, 2011).
2. Only 3 Indian players to have had prior experience of facing Pakistan in a World Cup are captain MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina (trio featured in 2011 semi-final in Mohali).
3. 5 from Pakistan have experience of playing against India in World Cup – skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (11), former captain Shahid Afridi (99, 2003, 2011), Younis Khan (03, 11), Umar Akmal (11) and Wahab Riaz (11). Afridi is now the most experienced as he gets ready for 4th match.
4. Pakistan have never bowled out India in World Cup. India have managed to get them all out 3 times (1992, 99, 2011).
5. No Indian batsman has scored a century against Pakistan in World Cup. The highest score is 98 by Tendulkar in 2003.
6. The only hundred in India-Pakistan World Cup matches came in 2003, by Saeed Anwar (101).
7. The 1st India-Pakistan match in a World Cup was on March 4, 1992 at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). The other 4 venues were Bangalore (96), Manchester (99), Centurion (03), Mohali (11).
8. The tickets for Sunday’s game were sold out in just 20 minutes when they went on sale last year. This game is set to break all viewership records.
9. Tendulkar is the highest run scorer in India-Pakistan World Cup matches with 313 runs from 5 innings (3 half centuries). Overall, he is also the top run-getter against Pakistan in World Cup history.
10. Paceman Venkatesh Prasad is the leading wicket-taker in India-Pakistan World Cup matches with 8 scalps from 2 innings (Best 5/27 in 1999).