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Saturday, February 21, 2009

India get down to business with intense training

A game of rugby and some fielding and batting drills comprised the strenuous three-hour workout that the Indian team went through ahead of the series against New Zealand that kicks off with a Twenty20 match on February 25.

The visitors practised at the picturesque Bert Sutcliffe ground.

Although Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are the Twenty20 world champions, they will bear in mind that they had been humbled by 10 runs by the resilient Kiwis during the inaugural championship at Johannesburg last September.

Warming up with a game of touch rugby, Dhoni's men were put through fielding drills by coach Gary Kirsten before they moved to the adjacent ground for a hit at the nets.

Kirsten spent some time with Rohit Sharma, urging the youngster to get his front foot in the right place while driving the ball.

Time and again, Kirsten walked up to the middle to guide the Mumbaikar with his bio-mechanics before Rohit got his act right in the second session for a knock against Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan.

Sachin Tendulkar took to the nets soon after, often walking up to Kirsten and asking him to pitch the ball on a particular spot so that he could lean into his shots.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan chose to go for a run alongside bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, much after his team-mates had wound up the nets.

The team arrived here on Friday after a strenuous journey, prolonged by transit layovers at Hong Kong and Auckland.

India, who play two Twenty20 matches, a five-ODI series followed by three Tests during the tour, have not won a Test series in New Zealand for the past 41 years.

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