With an injured Ishant Sharma already out of the World Cup, there have been concerns around the fitness of India's pace attack heading into the last quarter of their four-month Australia tour. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has probably been the biggest worry, with Dhawal Kulkarni travelling with the squad as its back-up 16th member. Bhuvneshwar missed the first three Tests with an ankle injury and was limited to two matches in the one-day triangular series. He bowled only five overs against the co-hosts in India's first warm-up match, and did not bat or bowl against Afghanistan in the second practice game.
Given all that, he did send down a handful of deliveries during India's practice sessions at St. Peter's College in Adelaide on Thursday and Friday, ahead of their World Cup opener against Pakistan on Sunday. He did not go full tilt, and the run-up was a touch shorter than is usual. But he was his usual accurate self, hitting the lone stump in one of the side nets on occasion.
The side nets were put to better use by the batsmen, who faced throwdowns from the support staff standing on stools. This involved a man standing with the ball in his sidearm device on one stool, taking a step forward onto the shorter second stool as if in delivery stride, and letting rip. It was probably a practice strategy to simulate the steep bounce generated by Mohammad Irfan, the extraordinarily tall Pakistan fast bowler. Most of the time, the balls were dug in short on the greenish side pitches, especially to Suresh Raina, and were tackled reasonably well by the Indian batsmen. There weren't too many pulls on display, although Stuart Binny signed off with a swiftly executed lofted front-foot drive over the covers.
Back from his trip to Melbourne for the opening ceremony, MS Dhoni, batting on the centre strip, was severe on the spinners. A standout was a semi-helicopter stroke played to a full delivery without much effort and follow-through that nearly cleared the square boundary. Virat Kohli was aggressive against the slow bowlers too, and looked equally comfortable facing the short throwdowns from the stools.
Shikhar Dhawan was one of the sharpest in fielding practice, taking some well-judged high catches under overcast, dull skies and spearing in a few sharp, flat throws.