Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and veteran pacer Ashish Nehra on Friday did not come for Indian team’s pre-match day training after being advised rest ahead of the crucial Asia Cup T20 game against Pakistan, in Fatullah on Saturday.
While Dhoni is suffering from back spasms, the injury-prone Nehra has his own specific training programme, which is different from the general team routine.
Dhoni had played through pain against Bangladesh but back spasms need adequate recovery time, which is specifically the reason he has been given 48 hours to recuperate before the Pakistan match.
His cover Parthiv Patel had his first training session but had precious little do as he did not get to bat in the main nets. Unless Dhoni’s physical condition deteriorates further, Parthiv's chances of playing are minimal.
There was one interesting sight during the training session on the match-eve. Both India and Pakistan trained adjacent to each other inside the main stadium at the Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium and trained at the same time between 4-6:30 pm local time.
However, during the entire two and half-hour training session, no pleasantries were exchanged between the members of the two sides.
Call it strange, there were four nets set-up on the four centre strips of the main stadium. In the first two nets, it was the Indian batsmen and in the next two were their Pakistani counterparts.
While training sessions of international teams are intense, it’s not uncommon to see players mingle with each other.
It’s certainly different from the 80’s or 90’s where one would find Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev enjoying a chat with a Javed Miandad during the training session or Wasim Akram would exchange a quick hello with Sachin Tendulkar or Mohammed Azharuddin.
It is not known whether it’s the ensuing tension of the match or the off-field tension for the now-aborted series but it is a reality that an Indo-Pak match is slightly different from the other duels.
Shahid Afridi for one spoke about how politics and cricket should not be mixed but at the same time tried to portray how Pakistan had always made the first approach to resume bilateral cricketing ties with India.
"Sports can always develop good relationship between countries. I think the Pakistani people want to see the Indians in Pakistan and vice-versa. We should not try to paint a political colour in sporting activities. Our government always took the first step in this regard," the Pakistan captain said.
In any case, the psychological battle has begun before the commencement of the on-field showdown.