India vs England: Unhappy Indian team management shorten practice match over pitch and outfield conditions

Indian coach Ravi Shastri was seen having an animated discussion with the local officials after getting a glimpse of the grassy pitch and a barren outfield that can cause injury while fielding.

Press Trust of India, July 24, 2018

Chelmsford: India's four-day practice match against county side Essex was reduced to three days amid high drama over the condition of the pitch and the outfield, both of which apparently left the visitors unhappy and threw their preparations for the Test series against England haywire.

Indian cricket team during a training session at Chelmsford. Image Courtesy: Twitter @BCCI

Indian cricket team during a training session at Chelmsford. Image Courtesy: Twitter @BCCI

The Indian team management took this decision during this afternoon's net practice after having a look at the pitch. Although there was no official word on why the match was shortened, Indian coach Ravi Shastri was seen having an animated discussion with the local officials after getting a glimpse of the grassy pitch and a barren outfield that can cause injury while fielding.

The rest of the Indian support staff, including assistant coach Sanjay Bangar and bowling coach Bharat Arun also took stock of the conditions and were seen having discussions with the ground staff.

Given that the game is not a classified first-class match, it is confirmed that the Indian team will be using all 18 members of their Test squad.

A senior member of the ground staff spoke with PTI at the end of it all on condition of anonymity and said that "all requests of the Indian team management have been accepted".

When pressed if that included "shaving off the grass", he simply said, "We have bent over backwards to accommodate the Indian team management's demands. It is disappointing though because we had sold a lot of tickets for the fourth day (Saturday)."

The oval county ground has nearly 25 pitches comprising its central square, and all of them had lush green grass covering. It was a strange sight given the heat wave in nearly all of United Kingdom at the moment, with temperatures in Chelmsford soaring to 27 degrees on Tuesday.

The appearance of the ground was made stranger by the fact that the outfield looked rugged and devoid of any grass, with only patches of green to be seen. It reflected the truer affect of unforgiving sunshine but at the same time, was cause for concern for the Indian team who wouldn't want any players injured during this game.

India's practice session lasted nearly four hours, with players arriving here in two batches. Nearly all batsmen and bowlers had rigorous workouts, with Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli also concentrating on slip fielding.

Even so, the sheen was taken off this practice session as the decision to shorten the game came two hours later.

As per statement from Indian team management, the squad will travel to Birmingham on Saturday and start its preparations for the first Test (from August 1) a day early.

When contacted, a representative from Essex County Club said that a statement might be coming forth later in the day.

A green-top wicket, along with a rugged outfield, in a non-first-class game against Essex wherein Alastair Cook is missing, is hardly the best preparation ahead of the first Test.

In turn, this poses a question mark over the world number one side's preparations for the upcoming five-Test series.

With the wicket and ground conditions turning out to be completely different from what is expected to be on offer during the Tests, it remains to be seen how the Indian team management goes about doing things over the next three days.

This includes Jasprit Bumrah, who bowled in tandem with Ishant Sharma, albeit with a heavily taped-up left thumb. Mohammed Shami also bowled a long spell in the nets.

Shikhar Dhawan worked on facing the short ball and took tips from Shastri, while skipper Virat Kohli took throwdowns.

KL Rahul followed openers in the nets, as Pujara batted later in the session. The remaining batsmen took their turns as part of the second batch.

In fact, Pujara along with Ishant, Shami, Bumrah, Karun Nair, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were all part of the second batch as part of the Test squad, and they were all given a warm welcome by the support staff and other members of the squad.

Updated Date: Jul 24, 2018







Top Stories

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4397 116
2 England 5310 108
3 South Africa 3712 106
4 New Zealand 2834 105
5 Australia 3663 102
6 Sri Lanka 3888 93
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6918 126
2 India 7000 121
3 New Zealand 4803 112
4 South Africa 4985 111
5 Pakistan 4370 102
6 Australia 3980 100
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 4979 138
2 India 5298 126
3 England 2586 118
4 Australia 3266 117
5 South Africa 2502 114
6 New Zealand 2803 112