AHMEDABAD, February 21: Captain Virat Kohli led a vigorous training session as the Indian team on Sunday looked to get used to the swinging pink ball and a swanky arena in Motera ahead of the day-night Test against England starting Wednesday. The four-match series is currently tied at 1-1 with the visitors winning the first Test in Chennai by 227 runs, and India coming back strongly with a 317-run triumph in the second game at the same venue.
Eager to seal the fate of the rubber with another victory, the home team players did stretching exercises, fielding drills before hitting the nets at the new Sardar Patel Stadium, the world’s biggest cricket venue with a staggering capacity of 1,10,000 spectators.
The big guns — skipper Kohli, his deputy Ajinkya Rahane, the flamboyant Rohit Sharma and the swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant — batted in the nets as the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj ran in and tested themselves under the blazing sun.
Pace spearhead Bumrah is bracing for a comeback after missing the second match at Chepauk and the seasoned Ishant Sharma, who is standing on the cusp of playing in his 100th Test, was also seen in action.
While the spinners may have accounted for the bulk of wickets in the first two Tests of the ongoing series, the Indian pacers took all 20 wickets to win their only previous day-night pink ball match on home soil, against Bangladesh in Kolkata.
Openers Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal also had a hit at the nets, with the Punjab batsman again getting ready to pair up with Rohit at the top of the order in the upcoming match.
The spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav — too rolled their arms over. The first two are set to play even as India contemplate leaving out the chinaman bowler keeping the swinging pink ball in mind.
The BCCI released a small clip of the training session while the local body — Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) — captured the moments as the players went though the drills.
As the two teams started their training in full swing, the players couldn’t stop raving about the stadium whose dressing rooms, amazingly enough, are connected to the gym.
President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to watch the upcoming Test match with Union Home Minister Amit Shah after inaugurating the new stadium.
India’s globe-trotting cricketers have already expressed their awe at the new facility. (PTI)