India v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Cardiff

India prepare quietly ahead of big clash

India look at ease as they train quietly and purposefully on the eve of their semi-final against Sri Lanka in Cardiff

Nagraj Gollapudi in Cardiff

June 19, 2013

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MS Dhoni leads his team out, India v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, Group B, Edgbaston, June 15, 2013
India will hope to keep their momentum going as they aim for the final © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: ICC Champions Trophy
Teams: India

Relaxed. That is what the Indian team are feeling at the moment. In fact, that seems to have been their state of mind throughout the tournament. Their progress might have caught the cynics off guard, especially back home, but MS Dhoni and his team could not care less. Although Dhoni did point out on the eve of the first warm-up match that it was surprising not to see numerous Indian TV channels, who had boycotted the event, unhappy with the terms and conditions set by the ICC over accreditation for non-rights holders.

Away from the glare of relentless media attention, India have trained quietly and purposefully. And it was the same in Cardiff on a warm and sunny Tuesday afternoon, where India did nothing out of the ordinary, two days ahead of their semi-final against Sri Lanka. Being such a big match, it is normal to expect teams to bring extra intensity to training. But India decided to keep things simple; greasing the nuts and bolts so that they are ready to roll out smoothly come Thursday.

Suresh Raina, obsessive when it comes to training, turned up first at Sophia Gardens, an hour before the rest of the squad arrived (at the scheduled time) in the afternoon. Taking throw downs from the fielding coach Trevor Penney, Raina focused on every aspect of his batting, especially against the moving and short ball. The success of the top order has not allowed Raina much time in the middle, so it was key that he remained in the right frame of mind.

Elsewhere, Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik asked Penney to feed them length balls, as they wanted to make certain they were sensing, eyeing and timing well. Kohli focused on leaving the ball as he felt he was not letting them go as much as he should have during match situations. Karthik went so far as to berate himself after pulling a ball too far away from his body. He communicated that to Penny, even pointing the exact distance he had connected with the ball, when all of the time he should have been lunging forward to play the pull.

Earlier, Karthik was involved in an animated chat with Indian coach Duncan Fletcher, with both men discussing the finer points about the upper cut and pull shot. It would have been fascinating to hear what was being said, but Fletcher seemed to galvanise Karthik, who was hell bent on getting things precise later.

Although the success of the Indian batting has been the central point of focus, the fast bowlers have also toiled hard, despite not having much experience with the white Kookaburra, bar Ishant Sharma. Today, Joe Dawes, the Indian bowling coach, put the trio of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar through various drills, pointing out exactly what each needed to do in order to be more sharp. Lengths, body movement and getting certain variations accurate seemed to be Dawes' focus during the hour-long session.

Dawes, a former Queensland fast bowler, and a policeman, is a methodical guy, and at times irritates the batsmen by refusing to give them easy balls, even during throw downs. This fact was not lost on Kohli, who teased Dawes for never giving batsmen any allowance. "Always at the batsman's wrists. You can throw 300 balls, but only five will be easy to drive," Kohli joked with Dawes, who was giving a slightly hard time to Bhuvneshwar at the time.

Such light-hearted banter only happens when a team is functioning smoothly. And that has remained the key to India's success in this Champions Trophy.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by India_ANY_track_bully on (June 24, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

ICC should ensure that no MAJOR cricket tournaments/ series are ever hosted in England again - and if they do - then leave ample spare days please. Other matches like bilateral tours/ series/ ashes etc which are irrelevant to vast majority of the cricketing world can occur. I mean 5 day matches in England are there for reason... when it rains for 4 days they can at least play a one-day (or T20)!

Posted by KaptainKool on (June 20, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

Though all have to perform on match day but it all boils down to weak links in Indian team. Ishant and Umesh. If these two fast bowlers perform well especially in the death overs and in power plays then I can't see the reason why can't this team be the Champion of the Champions. India all the way!

Posted by usernames on (June 20, 2013, 0:10 GMT)

I've got a bad feeling about this, as I said earlier too. I think Sri Lanka will will this one, even though I'd love for India to clinch it and win the CT.

Posted by Actioncricketer on (June 19, 2013, 23:20 GMT)

While on paper and on form, India are favorites, the Sri Lanka team has greater experience. Sangakara, Jayawardene, Dilshan, Malinga, Kulasekara and Herath have plenty have experience which can be useful in crunch situations. India on the other hand has youth, talent and the calming influence of Dhoni. So, it should be an exciting match tomorrow if the rain gods are nice. The real edge India has is in fielding and that can create panic amongst the lesser experienced Sri Lankan batsmen. My sense is that India will win, unless they somehow mess up really badly in batting. Decent bowling and outstanding fielding should help them defend a par score.

Posted by Christonaveen on (June 19, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

Its the clash of two Superpowers of Cricket in subcontinent. India is definitely on a high and its a dream squad for them as we have a bowler in 140 k+ . Flying fielders, Cracking Batsmen and a Calm Captain. MSD reminds me of Stephen Fleming. SL on their day can be fatal to any team they have the potential for big turnarounds. Sanga n Mahela are two veterans to worry for India. Wishing both of em Good Luck. but My Bet is on INDIA.. Right from my heart.. Go India Go....

Posted by Nampally on (June 19, 2013, 21:23 GMT)

India has great starters, strong middle order & the best finishers in the short format. So look out if they perform as expected, a 350 total is likely. We want Ishant & Yadev to bowl well to support Kumar, Ashwin & Jadeja. I expect an Indian Victory based on their form & performance. But on the day, they have to perform!. Jai Ho!.

Posted by Dilhara.karunarathna on (June 19, 2013, 19:00 GMT)

The Game of Cricket we Call It Gentleman's game And It Is not About the Fan's Disgrace. Anyone can express their Comments according to their psychological levels & Knowledge. SriLanka & India both Teams are in Good Form & both has Unique Talented Players & All of You know Cricket an Unpredictable Game. Any one Can do only the Predictions but, It may be not the True I would like to do little request from All SL & Indian Fans. The Game Is still On the way.Keep Calm & watch What will Happen. however It should be a very thrilling Contest and Enjoy to watch.

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India won by 5 runs
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India won by 8 wickets (with 90 balls remaining)
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