Bracing up for what is expected to be a gruelling Test series, visiting England cricketers had their first full net session here at the Brabourne Stadium after arriving from Bangladesh two days ago.
The marathon training and net practice session lasted for close to four hours with all the 16 members of the squad taking part in it although the session was “an optional” one.
“It was an optional session but with the Test in Dhaka finishing early (England lost in three days), all the team members had enough time to recover,” said team sources.
Initially only a few members, including captain Alastair Cook, were scheduled to take part in the session today to be followed by a full session tomorrow before the team’s departure to Rajkot for the opening Test of the five-game encounter beginning November 9.
“The squad will depart on Sunday. We have another full session here tomorrow,” England team sources informed.
England are set to have two full days’ of practice in Rajkot before the lung-opener, the first-ever Test match in that city.
Meanwhile, the visiting team sources were not much worried over the happenings vis-a-vis BCCI and the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha panel.
“We have no concern and are preparing for Rajkot,” said the visiting team’s sources when asked about reports about BCCI having written to their England counterparts to foot their own hotel bills and other expenses on the tour.
“The team relaxed in the hotel after reaching here,” said the sources who also brushed aside media speculations that the England and Wales Cricket Board had written to the BCCI over providing extra security for team members from a particular community.
“It has been blown out of proportion. There’s no concern about security,” the sources said.
Twelve local spin bowlers – including off spinners, left-arm orthodox slow bowlers and leg spinners – were made to bowl extensively to the English batsmen who are preparing to confront the Indian spin threat in the five-game series.
A top batsman like Joe Root was seen playing the slog-sweep and the step-out straight drives repeatedly against the net slow bowlers.
Meanwhile England’s injured pace spearhead James Anderson is expected to undergo a fitness test back home in less than 24 hours to find out whether he will be able to take part in the series at a later stage.
“He will be assessed in the next 24 hours. As of now he will miss the Rajkot Test,” said the visiting team’s sources.
Anderson, England’s highest wicket taker (463 victims) in 119 Tests and one of their key bowlers in Indian conditions on past tours, is recovering from a shoulder injury.
The 34-year-old right arm fast bowler missed the tour to Bangladesh, but England are hopeful that he could return to the team at some stage of the tour of India.
He has 22 wickets from seven Tests that he had played on Indian soil.
This is the ninth series between the two countries involving five or more Tests and the first lengthy rubber in the country since the 1984-85 one between the squads captained by Sunil Gavaskar and David Gower.
The other games of the series are to be played in Vishakapatnam (Nov 17-21), Mohali (Nov 26-30), Mumbai (Dec 8-12) and Chennai (Dec 16-20).
On its previous Test tour of India, England came from behind to turn the tables on the hosts and emerge 2-1 victors in a four-Test series. Cook was the England captain then too.
England squad: Alastair Cook (Captain), Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari, Johny Bairstow (WK), Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Jose Buttler, Ben Duckett, Steve Finn, H Hameed, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.
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