Brown, not green
Soon after he was done with his batting stint in the nets, Rohit Sharma took off his gear and gulped down some water. Just then, Duncan Fletcher instructed him to do some bowling.
Surprised, Sharma had a long discussion with the head coach before sending down several deliveries to Cheteshwar Pujara and the others. A cursory look at the match wicket made us realise why Fletcher asked Sharma to bowl. For starters, it’s brown and not green. There are patches of grass, but they are dry. And yes, the pitch already has its fair share of cracks. Graeme Swann and Rangana Herath have registered five-fors in the recent past. Locals say it will be slow all along. “You have to play two spinners,” one of them said. But India can’t afford to play two specialist spinners as it will affect the balance of the side. Part-timers like Sharma and Virat Kohli will have to assist the main spinner. Now who will that be?
R Ashwin is under fire. Will one of Ravindra Jadeja or Pragyan Ojha get a look-in?
Morkel doing his best
The selectors may have picked Kyle Abbott as a back-up option, but Morne Morkel is doing all he can to be fit for the Boxing Day Test starting in Durban on Thursday. The lanky pacer, who had twisted his right ankle on Day Four of the Wanderers Test and didn’t bowl after that, bowled his heart out during the team’s training session on Monday. His right leg strapped up to the calf, Morkel did that bicycle tyre workout of his. Bowling with his usual run-up, he clocked some pace. South Arica will hold a full training session on Christmas Day too, but they are likely to a take a final call on Morkel only on the morning of the Test.
Doc gets a workout
Dr RN Baba, India’s team’s media manager, is resourceful to say the least. From informing every member of the visiting media contingent about the team’s practice and press conference schedule to manning the boundary when the Kohlis and Dhawans go ballistic in the nets, he is everywhere. On Tuesday, MA Satish, a former Kerala opener and now the team’s logistics manager, gave ‘Doc’ some catching practice. In spite of being armed with a baseball glove (more like a pouch), Baba still missed many! Satish and Baba then teamed up and took on Amit Shah (physiotherapist) and CKJM Dhananjay (video analyst) in a game of Frisbee. Baba was anything but impressive. Even the players took time off their game of football to have a nice laugh.
Patrick Compton, son of the legendary English batsman Denis Compton, is a journalist here.
Soon after Graeme Smith was done with the question posed to him at the press conference on Tuesday, Compton gave the skipper a “morale-boosting piece of news”. Compton informed Smith that the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union had finally installed an air-conditioner in the dressing room at Kingsmead. Smith laughed out loud before thanking the officials.