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Home » Sports » India back to work in full strength

India back to work in full strength

With the full India squad gathering together ahead of the three-Test series against the West Indies, Friday’s focus was on getting a feel of conditions at the Kotla.

While the support staff, coach Duncan Fletcher and a few of the cricketers have been at work already, this was the first day of full-fledged practice ahead of the first Test that gets under way here on Sunday.

In the evening. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was joined by his West Indies counterpart Darren Sammy at the launch of the series prize, the Airtel Cup.

Rahul Dravid and Ishant Sharma were the first to hit the Kotla’ practice pitches a day ahead of their team mates and on Friday, Fletcher was in full cry as the all the 15 members of the squad went through their paces for close to three hours.

This will be India’s first five-day match since the 0-4 away drubbing at England’s hands this summer and the first Test at the Kotla since the drawn game against Australia three years ago.

Fit-again openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were the first to face up at nets with the new-look pace attack of Ishant, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron going at them. The spinners — off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, left-arm orthodox operator Pragyan Ojha and leg-spinner Rahul Sharma — then took over.

Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman followed the openers against both the quicks and then the spinners.

India will be missing only Zaheer Khan from an otherwise full-strength side, with a series of injuries having decimated the team in Old Blighty.

Jharkhand quick Aaron, who made his India debut in the one-dayers at home against England, worked up good pace and beat Tendulkar and Dravid a few times.

Ishant, who missed the home ODI series against England due to his ligament injury and has been bowling here against Dravid over the last couple of days, also looked sharp with good rhythm and pace.

The returning Yuvraj Singh was then followed at nets by Virat Kohli and stand-bye opener Ajinkya Rahane. Fletcher later spent time with the stylish left-hander, who broke a finger during the second Test at Trent Bridge against England in early August and is finally fit again.

Tendulkar completed his stint and thereafter went into a long chat with Fletcher and they were joined by bowling coach Eric Simmons, the discussions lasting close to an hour.

Given the Kotla’s long-standing reputation for being spin-friendly, the focus was clearly on a two-pace, two-spin shape to the attack for the series-opener.

Yuvraj also took the ball for a short spell towards the end of the net session, while Dhoni himself came to bat only after a fielding session.

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