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Improving cohesion and team spirit

K.C. Vijaya Kumar

BANGALORE: Laughter rung out loud when the Indian team started its training stint on a sunny note at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday.

The squad, present at full strength with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag often exhorting the group, indulged in an exercise meant to enhance cohesion, sharpen reflexes and fine-tune group dynamics.

Team game

Split into two groups of six each, the players had to lob nearly 100 tennis balls into three buckets placed about 10 feet away. Within the group, four threw while two relayed back the rebounds.

Every bucket had a certain point, ranging from one to three, and after two minutes, the game was stopped. The think-tank of coach Gary Kirsten and mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton declared the winners after making a count.

Humour was in rich supply when Ashish Nehra wildly flapped his arms and legs while trying to gather the ball. Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel often fell on the turf as they gamely tried to retrieve and S. Sreesanth, true to his rebellious ways, often tried to pelt straight into the bucket instead of relaying the ball back.

After three rounds, the squad assembled around Upton who lectured the players on thinking patterns and strategies. The team dispersed for a brief period before coming back to play some football.

The highpoint came when Tendulkar egged on the players to unveil their own version of the sprinkler dance made famous by Andrew Strauss and company at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after winning the Ashes.

Facing throw-downs

Later, the team moved to the KSCA (B) ground for regular nets where everyone had a stint and Tendulkar had a short session against Kirsten's throw-downs.

Nehra proved that he had fully recovered from the back spasm and there were enough hints about his return to fitness like the stinging bouncer to Pathan and the delivery that forced Sehwag to jump in ungainly fashion and lob a return catch. Amidst the medley of big hits, off-spinner R. Ashwin found his moment of relief when he castled Yuvraj Singh.

Sunday's clash against the World Cup's surprise packet — Ireland — will ensure that the Indians remain on their toes in the run-up to the weekend.

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