India v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Cardiff June 19, 2013

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
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • BHAARATVARSH 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)!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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!.

  • 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 Result.so 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.

  • Cpt.Meanster on June 19, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    Team India - easily the SUPREME team in the world at the moment when it comes to ODI cricket. Amazing group of young players energizing and bringing positivity to the proceedings. Their energy is a unique flair that lifts an entire nation. They have been superb in all their games so far and have played with intensity even in the warm up fixtures. It goes to show, they are hungry for success and want to win this badly for the nation and for all their fans and supporters. With all that is happening back home with Indian cricket, this victorious campaign will restore the dignity, pride and further strengthen the culture of Indian cricket. We have MS Dhoni, the best captain in the world, the best batsmen, some good bowlers and an entire fielding unit who hunt like a pack. Never before have any Indian team ever shown this resolute character. And they have come up against some quality opposition. Now they have two more hurdles to cross and I have the utmost confidence faith in their ability.

  • Ellalan on June 19, 2013, 18:28 GMT

    Though Sri Lanka had depended on Mahela and Sangakara in last few matches that was not the real case.. Always there's a time needed for any newbie to come to a form..And i hope most of the Sri Lankan youngsters will be able to face Indian bowling order peacefully..even then until unless they score 300 or more if they are bating first there would be no use of balling for Indian team with dream order bats men.. any how Kushal Perera and Lasith Malinga are my heroes for tomorrow.. and i hope no one forgot Malinga's balling on World Cup Finalzz.. And Dhoni's wicket will be the most important one in any situations.. Hope for the best from Srilanka tomorrow.. LISTEN.. LIONS WILL ROAR..

  • Harishonthemic on June 19, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    Why the comment on India being strong only on paper? Haven't you followed the CT till now? And why is Indian middle order as worrisome as SL? Kartik hit two consecutive centuries when he got a chance in the warm-ups - one against SL. Kohli always has the knack for hitting big hundreds against SL. Leave the warmup, he hit 2 hundreds in a bilateral series played in India and the Hobart match where 320 was chased off 40 overs is still fresh. Is he or Dhoni not facing the same Malinga, Kula and Perera they have been facing since WC11 or before? Compare this to SL. Only 2 batsmen-atmost 3 are batting well in the entire lineup. So what's new?! Eranga is new. Bhuvaneswar Kumar is new. They are the X-factor on each side. Other than that, both sides know each other pretty well. If India fail tomorrow, it's their bad shot selection not coz they're flummoxed by SL bowlers. SL have pulled off miracles in the league matches because Malinga was the X-factor for the other teams, but not to India.