Tendulkar's deft dodges, kirsten's back-heel…

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Old 05-Mar-2011
Tendulkar's deft dodges, kirsten's back-heel…

Bangalore March 5:

A clutch of eminent former cricketers peered at the ground through the glass and broke into a smile.

The Karnataka State Cricket Association president's chamber was a beehive of activity with incumbent Anil Kumble along with secretary Javagal Srinath working out the logistics of hosting Sunday's World Cup match between India and Ireland. Soon, vice-presidents Roger Binny and Venkatesh Prasad along with the legendary Gundappa Viswanath walked in and the senior group watched the Indian team train at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Out in the middle, M.S. Dhoni's men may well have caused doubts to a few fans about the exact nature of the premier tournament's subject because the Indian squad was actually playing football with its mix of serious intent and sporting nature. Football is a regular prelude to the Indian team's training sessions and Friday evening was no different.

A few years back, Kumble too was part of this routine and as he watched and fielded innumerable calls, coach Gary Kirsten, manning the defence, made a delicate back-heel to send the ball to goalkeeper S. Dhananjay. Ashish Nehra too ran hard and was sporting enough to cheer teammate Sachin Tendulkar's efforts upfront as well as lauding rival goal-keeper Virender Sehwag!

The Indian cricket team's preparatory exercises have acquired a welcome air of flexibility over the last decade unlike the regimented routine where even water was barred when men like Kapil Dev and Binny sweated it out in camps conducted by the late Col. Hemu Adhikari in the 1970s. The current batch, meanwhile, was busy parading its soccer skills.

Tendulkar's deft dodges, Dhoni's ability to pedal back to strengthen the defence as well as surge into the rival area and Yuvraj Singh's angled header were all on view. Histrionics was on display too as Harbhajan Singh slotted home a goal and did an exaggerated ‘Usain Bolt gesture,' leaning sideways, arching his back and pointing his hand to the sky.

Dhoni's group eventually prevailed over Tendulkar's men 3-2 but this was not about the final score. It was all about nurturing camaraderie in a team sport and the winning bunch struck another Bolt pose for the photographers. The players then indulged in some volleyball and twilight hour was soon greeted with Tendulkar, Harbhajan and S. Sreesanth warming their bats against throw-downs while Zaheer Khan and the other bowlers limbered up and bowled gentle spells.

The training schedule concluded with the heart-warming sight of the players interacting with children from the Karnataka Visually Impaired Welfare Association.

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