However, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are two battle-hardened professionals who know that it’s important to move on as they sweated it out in companionable silence.
There’s a 31-year jinx in Indian cricket having missed out on a Test series win in the ‘Rainbow Nation’ and in the twilight zone of their careers, both would want to achieve which no other Indian teams could.
While Kohli, who came back from London after a short break with family, joined the training after half an hour, Rohit did look a bit more relaxed after shutting himself off for three weeks.
The two batted in different nets and centre practice strip, and also faced throwdowns for more than an hour.
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There was hardly any conversation between them even when they took short breaks in between. Unlike the World Cup nets when there was a mix of both focus and laughter, the only sound that made you sit up and take notice was that of the red leather colliding with the willow.
Coach Rahul Dravid had a hawk eye on centre nets as KL Rahul put his pads on quickly. With Kona Bharat not even bothering to don the big gloves during the first hour, one had no doubt who would keep wickets.
It became more clear with the slip formation when Rahul kept wickets and had young turks Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill for company.
Cricket is piece of life and all present at Supersport Park during the gruelling three hours were seen picking up the pieces.
Amid the silence though, Rohit’s sense of humour remained intact when he joked with a well known Youtuber that “you have got competition because others are here,” pointing out at other journalists, who have come to cover the series.
The first to enter the nets, Rohit and young Yashasvi Jaiswal were seen taking turns while facing Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur for five deliveries each before coming in for next round.
However, the signature Rohit came to fore when he slog swept Ashwin deep into the grass embankments. One knew that nothing has changed as per Rohit the opener is concerned.
As the skipper was in the midst of his first stint, in walked Kohli and had a brief chat with coach Dravid as he watched Rohit’s batting.
After some time, King Kohli walked out of the main arena and padded up for the throwdown nets where Rohit and Jaiswal would join in a few minutes.
“Tujhko pehle jana ki main jaaon (You will go first or should I go),” Rohit asked his younger opening partner who wants the senior to take strike.
One of the throwdown specialists Dayanand asked his skipper, “Dada aapke liye kaunsa bowler rakhein, right arm ya left-arm (Should I keep right-arm or left-arm bowler for you).”
The skipper was fine with anything as the former skipper already started his knocking at other nets.
Both defended well, left a lot of deliveries on length and drove occasionally, exchanged nets, watched a bit of each other’s batting.
Rohit later was seen explaining the body balance while hitting the pull shots as Jaiswal and Gill, the “Rohit-Kohli” duo of future listened intently.
The team looked intense like its head coach, a far cry from the more relaxed environment one saw during World Cup.
There’s lot at stake in the next two weeks.
ASHWIN COULD MISS OUT AGAIN
Against a four-pronged pace attack comprising Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen and possibly Gerald Coetzee, it is unlikely India will lessen their batting depth and hence, Shardul could once again pip Ravichandran Ashwin in the pacer-friendly conditions where underlying moisture is expected due to forecast of heavy showers on Day 1.
But Shardul will be the fourth pacer and if one goes by nets, Mukesh Kumar, although a few yards lesser in pace than Prasidh Krishna, bowled good channels and beat the bat a lot of times.
Prasidh though bowled his back of length deliveries, which didn’t trouble most of the batters.