Confident Team India
Team India was oozing confidence on the eve of Sunday's key World Cup clash against England in Bangalore.
The entire team went through various rigorous routines in the nets, and even spent a lot of time on fielding practice.
In the last year or so, the players had optional net sessions on the eve of a match and some were even allowed the liberty to rest. But Saturday's session was serious business.
Ashish Nehra did not go flat out. He bowled from a short run-up, and at a slower pacer. The left-arm seamer has still not recovered from back spasms and will miss Sunday's match too.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni though confirmed that the rest of the squad is fully fit, with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh all going through their batting sessions without any problem.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Vireder Sehwag duing a practice session in Bangalore
'In every game you have to start from scratch'
England have lost 11 of their 12 One-Day Internationals in India, but Dhoni refused to take his opponents lightly.
"What is important is for each and every game we prepare likewise, whether it is Bangladesh or England or Australia; because that is what I feel is important rather than giving that one game extra importance.
"It's very important to have same preparation level throughout the tournament. I think it is a crucial game, but, at the same time, the preparation level remains the same," Dhoni said.
Despite starting with an 87-run victory over Bangladesh in the tournament opener, he refused to concede that India are favourites against England, who laboured to a close six-wicket win over minnows The Netherlands.
"In every game you have to start from scratch; a fresh start which means you have to do all the good things that you have done in the past. A lot has been talked about carrying the momentum, but every game is different and you have to start well.
"Of course, we had a good start in the opening game, where we batted really well and after that spinners did a good job in the middle overs. Again, I think it is about the team that will start well and hold the nerves for a consistent period of time. May the best team win!" he added.
Image: Munaf Patel and Yuvraj Singh during a warm-up session
'Kohli has been in tremendous form'
Interestingly, Dhoni pointed out that while Virat Kohli's place in the side is more or less settled, the experienced Yuvraj Singh's contribution with the ball gives him the edge over Suresh Raina.
"Virat Kohli has been in tremendous form in last few series; it will be always tough to pick one of the two, as Yuvraj Singh has the edge of bowling left-arm spin and we desperately need that, as we usually play with only four bowlers.
"I think it's a difficult decision, but what we need to see is once all three batsmen (Virat, Raina and Yuvraj) start scoring then it will be a fight for slots. Virat is ideally suited to bat as low as four. So it will be more a battle of slots than the individuals," he said.
Image: Virat Kohli
Photographs: Getty Images
Onus on Sehwag to give brisk start
India is also undecided on whether an extra spinner should be included in the team, as playing just two seamers reduces the variety in the bowling attack.
"It is a tough one, because if you play just two seamers, your bowling becomes quite similar. Of course, you have variations when it comes to the spin department, but if you are playing three seamers and one spinner then the part-timers can also do the job. Of course, it is a tempting and challenging decision to make," said India's skipper.
He also pointed out that Virender Sehwag's primary role is giving the team a brisk start by going after the bowlers.
"He has done that at times when we needed him to bat for more than 30 overs, but his most important role is to bat aggressive and give us a good start and momentum from which the middle order can capitalise.
"If he bats for 50 overs, I don't have a problem with that, but, definitely, the opposition will have problems."
Image: Virender Sehwag
Photographs: Getty Images