Bangalore: The Indian team Saturday began their three-day training camp ahead of their Test series against Australia starting next week with two hectic practice sessions, with senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar returning in the mix after his retirement from ODI cricket. Tendulkar, who struggled against England in the recent home Test series, batted for two hours and 15 minutes in two separate sessions, one in the morning and another in afternoon, lasting five-and-a-half hours in total.
In the morning session, Tendulkar batted along with Virat Kohli for 45 minutes on the centre pitch at Chinnaswamy Stadium, facing Ashok Dinda, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin. In the second session which began at 2 pm, Tendulkar batted on the centre pitch for 20 minutes facing top Indian bowlers. After that he hung at the nets for one hour and 10 minutes, focussing more on his shots in contrast to the morning session when he did not try anything unusual and paid attention to the basics.
Interestingly, the out-of-system young and unknown raw bowlers who were called for service by the support staff bowled at Tendulkar, who did not ask them to bowl to his wishes. Tendulkar also rolled his arms against Harbhajan Singh, who enjoyed his batting by lifting 'net bowlers' out of the park a couple of times and even breaking windowpane glasses at pavilion area. Tendulkar also hurled 'throwdowns' with leather balls to Virat Kohli who worked on his technique to sort out some grey areas in his batting.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni got down to the details of batting than wicket-keeping. He batted for nearly 25 minutes. In the morning session, new face Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were seen sweating it out at the side nets using the 'high altitude mask', which helps in achieving increased mental and physical stamina levels. Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja also batted in both sessions.
They also faced 'throwdowns' from India's fast bowling coach Joe Dawes with tennis balls to prepare themselves for negotiating short-pitched stuff which Australian pace battery could unleash in the series starting in Chennai on February 22. Team India coach Duncan Fletcher-led support staff has engineered a plot to use the services of out-of-the-system 15 young and unknown raw talents to bowl at the top order batsmen over the next three day
These raw talents, comprising of nine pacers and six spinners, have been picked from open trials at various cities before being sent to regional academies in Mumbai, Chennai and Mohali to whet their skills. The programme is the brainchild of former NCA Director of Operations and the current chief selector Sandeep Patil. These 'net bowlers' will take off weight from the Indian bowlers during the camp ahead of the challenging series against the Australians.