India Uncut

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

In the nets at Mohali

The Indians are at the nets behind the PCA stadium in Mohali. A long line of local bowlers are running up and bowling at Rahul Dravid. A tall lanky boy in a patka runs in, bowls, and Dravid lets it sail by. A shorter boy, also in a patka, bowls, Dravid defends firmly on the back foot. Sourav Ganguly comes on to bowl, Dravid rocks back and pulls him clinically. Every ball on its merit.

Ganguly thinks a while before he bowls his first ball, looking around him, and at the assembled pressmen standing at the side of the nets, watching. Is he wondering: “What will they make of this? What will they write tomorrow after they see me bowling in the nets?” He is a man who likes to keep expectations low, even as he sets his sights high. His medium pace could play an important role on the Mohali pitch.

Sachin Tendulkar comes out to bat after a while. Everybody’s looking at his elbows, but I’m looking at his knees. Tendulkar famously wiggles his knees – can a half-bend be called a wiggle? – as he takes his stance, and I see him doing this time and again when the bowler is in the middle of his run-up, as if his knees are saying: “I’m ready for you. Come to Sachin..” His footwork is precise and minimal, his balance is assured.

At one point, three men line up at different parts of the run-up, ready to bowl. Closest to him, Anil Kumble. Then Zaheer Khan, followed, a few feet behind, by Irfan Pathan. One by one they bowl to him. He is in fine touch, and plays them all with assurance. And his knees, I notice, don’t wiggle when he faces Kumble.
amit varma, 11:52 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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