Our View: The pride is yet to last past 3 days…
Watching the Indian team's practice session is the best way to remind oneself that the easiest of all wastes is the waste of time. The hackneyed routine, followed day after day after day, neither enthuses participants nor onlookers. And it begins and ends with throwdowns.
Indian batsmen appear to have got so addicted to throwdowns that they are often seen either coming in early - like Rohit Sharma did on Sunday - or even staying on till late like Rahul Dravid to get their fill. In a way their craving for halfvolleys, chucked at them from 16 to 18 yards, is understandable. It is the surest way of striking the ball off the middle of the bat, something they have singularly failed to do against Australian bowlers all series.
Unfortunately, it also unknowingly prevents a batsman from getting his timing in sync with the vagaries of a bowlers' action.
No wonder they get beaten regularly by bowlers when they opt for conventional net practice. The demand is so high that apart from Raghu, the 'throwdowns specialist', bowling coach Eric Simons, fielding coach Trevor Penny and even video analyst Dhananjay and trainer Ramji Srinivasan all 'chuck' in to keep Indian batsmen happy.
There was the usual bonhomie at Indian nets on Sunday, but little intensity less than 48 hours before the coin goes up in the final Test. It was good to see skipper MS Dhoni interact closely with his deputy Virender Sehwag after the latter finished his batting practice. Dhoni, who is suspended for this match because of India's slow over-rate, was squatting in one corner of the outdoor nets when Sehwag walked up to him - with pads on - and sat on the ice-box.
Even as they were involved in a discussion, Gautam Gambhir made his way up to the duo and parked himself on the ice-box with Sehwag making room for him. It is difficult to say whether they talked about a possible turnaround, but it certainly gave the impression that they were on the same page.
It is hazardous to read too much into such frivolous practice sessions, but from the look of it one thing is pretty certain: in spite of his awful form VVS Laxman will play on, while Rohit Sharma will have to wait till the end of the year to earn his Test cap.
The talented Mumbai youngster has been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now, but with selectors as well as the team management quite happy to let under-performing seniors play on, the Indian team has been denied an infusion of fresh blood.
It is being said in hushed tones that Dravid and Laxman may announce their retirement if they get a big score here, but the probability of such a scenario emerging is so low that it is yet to show up on the radar.
The good news for India came from the curator, who gave the pitch another shave to leave it looking brown and dry. Despite his claims to the contrary, curator Damien Hough looks to be under some pressure to produce a pitch benign enough for the Test to last the distance, but further mowing of the dry grass will almost certainly lead to the surface breaking up in the searing heat.
Both sides are likely to field three pacers and one spinner in their bid to get a favourable result. Only if the pitch gets any browner will India consider playing two spinners - R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha - along with pacers Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav.
Source: The Times of India