Indian cricket team led by Virat Kohli carried out their first group practice session here on Saturday ahead of the first Test against South Africa on Boxing Day.
The BCCI took to social media to share pictures, in which Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, and Mayank Agarwal can be seen doing batting practice. On the other hand, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, and other bowlers were seen rolling their arm over.
“Team India begin preparations for 1st Test in Centurion,” the BCCI wrote on Twitter along with the pictures.
Earlier in the day, the team had a fun session wherein they “recharged their batteries”, with all the cricketers and chief coach Rahul Dravid playing footvolley and indulging in friendly banter.
“How did #TeamIndia recharge their batteries ahead of their first training session in Joburg? (Thinking face emoji). On your marks, get set & Footvolley! (Smiling face with sunglasses emoji),” tweeted BCCI.
India’s strength and conditioning coach, Soham Desai, said that after three days of hard quarantine in Mumbai, starting a skill session right away would have been “high risk”, which is why the team had an easy session on Friday evening.
“We have had three days of hard quarantine in Mumbai and we’ve had 10 hours of long flight and yesterday (Thursday) was again a hard quarantine day here, so starting out (a) skill session straightaway would have been a high-risk thing for the guys. So, today evening (Friday), we went for a run, we got together stretched out, sweated out this game (footvolley) is going to help them bridge the gap between inactivity and the skills (sessions) from tomorrow (Saturday),” said Desai.
Desai said his biggest task would be to help the players adjust to the Johannesburg altitude. The team had been quarantined in Mumbai at sea level, while Johannesburg was at an altitude of 1400 metres.
“Also the schedule is such that we have to get going right away and we can do only so much to adjust to the elevation here, which is 1400 metres and we are coming from sea level, so the guys are going to take 2-3 days to adapt to that,” he said.
“This game (footvolley) can be called the Indian team game because meaning we give them options to play many other games but they end up choosing foot volley and they enjoy it, they love it they have their own battles within the team going on for years now.
“This game, the laughter, and banter are ways to eliminate all those things which are creeping in their minds time away from home and the best way I can think of that helps them to focus on the game and stay in a happy space (sic),” he added.