Colombo: When you are feeling the pressure, doctors often recommend that you find a release – a vent that will help you retain a sense of equilibrium and do your best.
The Indian team, even after winning the game against Afghanistan, finds itself under a fair bit of pressure. The openers are misfiring, the bowling isn’t firing at all and the less said about the fielding the better. Honestly, all that stress can put the players down a bit.
So today, Duncan Fletcher told them to let their hair down after a tough fielding session and after that it rained sixes. And just like that the stress seemed to vanish, the team was smiling again as it walked off the ground after a three-hour practice session.
Virender Sehwag got hit on the right thumb by a local bowler during the nets, so he didn’t take part in the ‘contest.’ But he was fit enough to do some knocking right after that, so hopefully no worries there.
Irfan Pathan was into the nets early and he started things off by hitting a few balls beyond the boundary line and into the club house at the P Sara Oval ground in Colombo. But for a while, he had no company.
Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were in serious mode. There was the odd big shot but mostly the focus was on getting the timing and footwork right. Virat, in particular, seemed content to play the ball along the ground.
But the fun started with Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking up the bat in the nets. After taking a few deliveries to get used to the pace of the pitch, the Indian skipper tore into the bowling. It rained sixes but the other batsmen started getting into it only after one of the sixes crashed into the glass window of the press box, which is around two stories high.
The loud ‘crack’ echoed around the ground and suddenly the battle was joined. Piyush Chawla, the leg-spinner, was in the mood to give his skipper some competition. You don’t expect the little man to hit the big shots but he sure packs a lot of power.
Soon, Harbhajan Singh who was getting a throw-down in the adjacent nets couldn’t resist the urge to launch his tennis shots either. Soon, all the free local bowlers were positioned on the boundary line – but they didn’t catch too much for the balls just kept sailing over their heads.
It was the kind of hitting that you won’t see very often in a match but to watch ball after ball disappear into the stands and beyond is awe-inspiring. And even though Pathan, Bhajji, Manoj Tiwary, Gautam Gambhir tried hard, they just couldn’t match Dhoni in the six-hitting stakes.
It might have been different if Yuvraj or Raina – both power-hitters – were around but today, at the P Sara, there was just one winner.