Uncertain for tomorrow’s Asia Cup opener against Bangladesh, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today skipped the entire training session of the Indian cricket team here even though he accompanied the side to the ground.
Nursing back spasms, Dhoni’s availability for the match at Mirpur tomorrow is not clear with his vice-captain Virat Kohli also refraining from giving a clear response.
While a lot of players don’t train on pre-match days, Dhoni normally plays football and does batting practice in the nets. Although, he never does any keeping drills during training sessions, he does gather a few before taking the field on match days.
In a nutshell, Dhoni can’t be ruled out till the playing XI is announced before toss tomorrow.
Dhoni has been suffering from back spasms which resulted in Parthiv Patel being flown in on SOS basis as cover for the Indian captain.
While he did not take part in the training session, Dhoni keenly watched his teammates go through the paces at the Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium, here today.
A keen footballer, who would never miss a game, Dhoni stood behind the goalpost at the pavilion end, watching his teammates warm-up.
Later, when the nets started, he watched the Suresh Rainas and the Rohit Sharmas bat. In between, he did give some catching practice to Ajinkya Rahane, who is unlikely to feature in the XI now that Virat Kohli has made a comeback.
Dhoni’s replacement Parthiv Patel did arrive by afternoon but was given rest as he has flown in from Mumbai this afternoon. If the pint-sized wicket-keeper batsman from Gujarat gets to play, it will be without a proper net session with the team.
The bigger reason that Dhoni will be keen to get fit is because Parthiv can’t bat in all key positions in the shortest format.
The other problem with Parthiv is his inability to hit big sixes during death overs. His best has come against the new ball. He takes advantage of the field restrictions in the first six overs at least sporadically in the IPL.
But given the settled top-order, Parthiv is unlikely to be included in the upper half of the line-up. In fact, he may be sent after the big-hitting Hardik Pandya.
Among other players, Ashish Nehra did his own routine before bowling a few deliveries at the nets. One such sharp bouncer surprised Pandya, who seemed rattled by the steep bounce generated by the 36-year-old Delhiite.
The other notable aspect during the training session was Ravindra Jadeja’s big-hitting. Whether it was Harbhajan Singh or the net bowlers, Jadeja was regularly sending the deliveries soaring into the stands.