Heavy rains in Colombo forced Indian cricketers to resort to indoor sessions ahead of their much-anticipated Asia Cup Super 4 match against Pakistan on Sunday. That they might not get a chance to practice outdoors was expected as the weather forecast for Colombo this week is not so good. But the biggest takeaway in India’s intense net session on Thursday was the return of KL Rahul. The wicketkeeper-batter joined the squad after being declared fit by the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He had missed the group stage of the Asia Cup due to a niggle.
Captain Rohit Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli, pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj, even spinner Kuldeep Yadav, all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel decided to give the indoor session a miss. With still three days to go for the match, all the net sessions are optional. Majority of these cricketers are expected to join the session on Friday.
The focus, however, was on Rahul completely. According to ESPNCricinfo, the right-hander had no visible discomfort while batting in the nets. He was moving well in the throwdown sessions handled by batting coach Vikram Rathour and throwdown specialist Nuwan Seneviratne. The idea was to make him accustomed to both the right-am and left-arm angles. He spent the longest time in the nets to be fully prepared for his comeback match. In the photos shared by BCCI, Rahul was seen going through some fitness drills.
Rahul, however, did not do any drills related to wicketkeeping. It will be interesting to see how he goes about things in the lead-up to the Pakistan match.
The likes of Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Padya batted against the quick bowlers. Iyer was focussing on how to tackle the short ball. He was once again dismissed while trying to pull a short delivery from Haris Rauf in the group match against Pakistan.
Head coach Rahul Dravid who earlier expressed the need for India to bat a little deeper, threw balls at Shardul Thakur to prepare him to bat in the end overs to bring depth to the lower-order. Dravid was also seen having a chat with Shardul and Suryakumar Yadav.
India’s top-order would look to put up a better against the likes of Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and Rauf. Afridi and Rauf had knocked over India’s top four cheaply in the match at Pallekle. If it wasn’t for a rescue act from Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya, India could well have been staring down the barrel.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have looked the best team in the Asia Cup so far. They started off their Super 4 campaign with a resounding 7-wicket win against Bangladesh. Rauf was the star of the show with 4/19.