Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo
Almost 24 hours after they wrapped up the tour game, one of the Indians was still bowling in the middle at Sedgars Park. Anil Kumble played no part in the 96-run win over Rest of South Africa, and he bounded in for half an hour, with Dinesh Karthik keeping wicket. After that, Karthik batted for a few minutes as Kumble went through the repertoire in preparation for the first Test.
On the other side of the pavilion, Rahul Dravid was first into the nets against the bowling machine, showing little signs of discomfort ahead of a match where his presence will be absolutely crucial. At an adjacent net, Virender Sehwag practised against two local boys and Eduan Roos, who once represented North West Under-19s and is now senior cricket writer for Rapport, a Sunday newspaper in Afrikaans. It wasn’t quite adequate preparation for Makhaya and friends, but after minimal time in the middle in this game, any bat on ball will probably be beneficial.
The most interesting little practice took place in the tiled corridor behind the main sightscreen, with Greg Chappell throwing plastic balls at Wasim Jaffer. Jaffer’s form ahead of the first Test has given the team management a headache or two, and the manner in which the plastic ball took off from short of a length was a forerunner of what awaits on a bouncy pitch against South Africa’s quick bowlers.
Back indoors, Louise Vorster, who played some cricket in her day and is now media manager and director of the women’s academy, hopes that Sedgars Park will host another international team soon. It’s a gorgeous ground, surrounded by trees on all sides, and with grass banks for people to sun themselves while watching a game. However, the lack of a cricket culture comparable to the main cities means that international games are likely to be few and far between.
Being a Sunday, the streets of the town are pretty much deserted. The Indian restaurant we head to in the afternoon is closed – the woman in charge is busy preparing a farewell dinner for the Indians – and we end up at McDonald’s instead. Soon after we take our tables, a man in an India T-shirt walks up to the counter. We didn’t quite catch what Sourav Ganguly ordered, but hopefully it was something on the diet sheet.