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Bowlers and Wriddhiman Saha get ample batting practice time in India training session

These may be signs of things to be made features of the Anil-Kumble era

Cheteshwar Pujara bats at the nets in Bengaluru

There were two noteworthy observations to be made from Team India’s practice session on Friday at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru, made especially noteworthy because they may be signs of things to be made features of the Anil-Kumble era. It was the third day of the national preparatory camp, as the new coach starts making himself at home in this new position.

Normally used to India players practising their stronger suit, reporters were taken aback to see Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami among the players to take strike first in the morning. As Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli batted at an adjacent net, three India fast bowlers were seen concentrating on their batting. 

Ishant went for the sweep several times, Umesh went for some audacious cuts, but the change in the team philosophy was clear – increased value put upon batting by the tail-enders. India has had a weak tail in recent times, and has had to lose matches for this weakness. Kumble was himself somebody who took his batting seriously, and this is a welcome change he is to inspire.

Ishant and Umesh faced Karnataka pacer HS Sharath, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra and a couple of net bowlers for about 45 minutes. Shami’s batting stint was shorter, he was called upon himself to bowl to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin.

Wriddhiman Saha’s batting was under the spotlight as well, with Kumble himself having stepped up to bowl to him. Virat Kohli, who appeared to be jovial throughout the session, volunteered to keep wickets as Saha took guard. By noon, the batting session was called to a close.

There were some reports doing the rounds that Cheteshwar Pujara would be demoted in the batting order according to proof seen in the training session. On one occasion when batsmen were called in order, it was Ajinkya Rahane who got called up at No.3, with Pujara coming much later at No.6, after Kohli and Rohit Sharma. This might indicate that Kumble is considering making Rahane the Test No.3 ahead of Pujara starting from the tour of West Indies later this month.

Both Rahane and Pujara have had very promising Test careers, but the latter has gone a little off the radar with there being very limited opportunities for limited-overs cricket this year. However, a long period of Test cricket is around the corner, and these two questions, among many others, shall beget an answer before that time is through.

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