Indian bowlers focus on building workload ahead of WTC final against Australia

Portsmouth: The Indian cricket team is focussing on building workload for the bowlers, who had an extensive run in the IPL, ahead of the World Test Championship final against Australia starting on June 7 at The Oval.

In the bowling department, while the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Akshar Patel, Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav were part of the first batch to travel to England, pace spearhead Mohammad Shami’s departure was delayed as the IPL final in Ahmedabad last Sunday was moved to the reserve day after incessant rain.

The middle-order mainstay Virat Kohli was also among the players who left in the first batch along with the Rahul Dravid-led coaching staff. Kohli joined the camp on Monday along with Cheteshwar Pujara, who linked up with the squad in England as he was busy playing County Championship for Sussex.

The Indian team is expected to have a few practice sessions at the Arundel Castle Cricket Club in Sussex ahead of the big final.

“The preparation has been good so far. The initial bit was to ease into the practice session but the last two sessions have been pretty happy — I think we pushed them a little bit. Just adding a little bit of workload for the bowlers, just kind of preparing them for the Test match,” said India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey in a video released by the BCCI.

“(We are) happy with the conditions, I think it is a lovely ground, (it is) kind of what you can expect. The weather is holding up, it has been sunny, a little windy, a little chill, but something that we have to get used to (when) playing in England,” he said.

India’s fielding coach T Dilip said the focus will be on close-in catching since the running part of the fitness drill was covered in the IPL.

“The players have been coming from an IPL so a key thing for us to take care of was the workload, how much they have run, how much they have taken care.

“What we understood and got out of that is things (like) ground fielding have been covered in the IPL, so the focus here was more on the volume of catching, especially when you are talking about close-in catching, the slip catching and the flat catches. These are the catches that we tend to increase the volume (of),” he said.

Mhambrey said while the bowlers will get some rest in the days leading up to the WTC final, the group is determined to extract the maximum benefits from the training sessions.

“We have two more sessions now, we want to build up, especially with the bowlers in a couple of sessions. One day before the Test match, all of us have an easier option, the bowlers’ option is they take an off and maybe one or two sessions before that.

“If you look at it, we have three quality sessions in which we can push them in and try to get the best out of every session we have,” he said.

India batting coach Vikram Rathour said the focus will also be on adapting to the longest format.

“They have all played a lot of cricket. Whatever time we are getting, it is about adapting to a different format, getting used to playing with the red ball and getting a few sessions in and getting used to the format,” he said.