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India vs Pakistan: Calm before the storm

Indians opt for football instead of intense cricketing drills,while Pak practise hard.

Written by G.S. Vivek | Mohali |
March 28, 2011 2:08:48 am

Despite a World Cup semifinal looming over them,the Indian players took a relaxed approach to training at the VCA Stadium on Sunday. Their schedule comprised a football game,a light fielding session and then a game of volleyball,but no intense cricket drills.

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that the way they trained was reminiscent of their lead-up to the game against Ireland in the group stages. A high-stakes India-Pakistan knockout is a world away from a match against an associate team,but as was the case in that match,the Indians have a long gap before Wednesday’s encounter. The Indian team,throughout the tournament,has trained precisely according to their requirements,even if this makes them look — to the casual viewer — like they are casual about practice.

As MS Dhoni engaged in an animated discussion with chief curator Daljit Singh,pointing at a patch of grass on a good-length area,Sachin Tendulkar walked in with four brand new bats,and began knocking them in. “Call me if you are in trouble,I will be there,” he announced as the rest of his teammates chased a football around the outfield.

Tendulkar’s services were soon required to counter the over-aggressive Suresh Raina on the left flank and he left yoga instructor Manoj Kumar with precise instructions on knocking the bats in.

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Keeping pressure at bay

Another man,wearing a white bib,was making his presence felt. Mike Horn,the famous motivational speaker who worked with the team during its preparatory camp ahead of the World Cup,was asked to address the team again ahead of its semifinal clash,a game bound to test their nerve even more than their skill. Horn had one-on-one chats with several players before he played fielder while Virat Kohli and Dhoni took their turns with the new bats.

Quite contrary to that is the Pakistan approach towards training. The Pakistan team arrived in the morning and,after a lengthy game of football,settled for extensive fielding drills and eventually a full-fledged net session. The team sweated it out for close to four hours on Sunday morning after their four-hour Saturday evening session and are scheduled to have another lengthy session tomorrow. There was extra focus on fielding with coach Waqar Younis imploring his boys to stay as low as possible while rushing in towards the ball.

“We believe in training extra hard and we have been spending close to four hours every day during the entire tournament. This has worked for our boys and nobody has ever complained about anything. They all are enjoying it,” says manager Intikhab Alam.

They have different approaches to practice sessions,but both India and Pakistan have one common goal-winning the World Cup. Unfortunately,there will be just one winner.

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