Looking at how England went about in 1st game; practising some sweep shots: KS Bharat

February 1, 2024

Visakhapatnam, Feb 1 (IANS) With India 1-0 behind in the five-game Test series against England, wicketkeeper-batter KS Bharat said the hosts’ have taken a cue from the visitors’ batting approach in the series opener at Hyderabad and have been making an effort to focus on sweep shots ahead of the second match at the ACA-VDCA Stadium starting on Friday.

England secured a thrilling 28-run win over India in the series opener at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad last week, on the back of vice-captain Ollie Pope’s magnificent 196 and debutant spinner Tom Hartley’s 7-62 helping them emerge victorious from a situation of conceding a 190-run lead.

In that game, England relied heavily on sweep and reverse-sweep as run-making options, something which the Indian batters have been practising at in their nets session in Visakhapatnam.

“In our team meetings we spoke about the things we could have done better and yes, we certainly have few plans (for this Test match). (We are) definitely looking at the way how they went about the first game, playing some reverse (sweeps). That’s something we have definitely worked on.

“Playing in India, we play a lot of cricket on these tracks. It’s not that we don’t know how to sweep, reverse sweep or paddle-sweep, but on that particular day depending on the situation of the team, we as batters take our calls. It is very clear to us to bat with freedom.

“We have also practiced the reverse sweeps before the first game as well. But while playing out in the centre, it is the batters’ individual plan. If the team demands us to play in a certain way then we are up to it. But individually we have separate set plans and looking to do well as a batting unit in this game,” said Bharat in the pre-match press conference.

Asked about any doubts in the dressing room post the loss to England, Bharat denied any such claims. “After the game, the atmosphere (in the team) is absolutely relaxed. They asked us not to panic. The instruction is very clear that it’s a long Test series and we have played such series in the past.

“We as individuals have to focus on good things. Things that we want to try, which we want to implement. We just want to play good cricket. That’s the message from the captain and the coach,” he said.

India will be playing the second Test minus injured duo of KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, along with Virat Kohli still on leave for personal reasons, meaning either of Rajat Patidar or Sarfaraz Khan could be handed a debut. Bharat admitted the trio’s absence leaves India short on experience, but pointed towards the team eager to learn from the mistakes in Hyderabad.

“Their experience definitely counts, but if you look at youngsters like us, we have played a lot of domestic cricket and we have played a lot of cricket. It’s unfortunate for them to miss, but then our bench strength is always ready for a challenge on these kinds of tracks. The guys walking in, I am sure they will definitely do well and take it forward.

“They (England) played really good shots (at Hyderabad). Credit goes to them, as they are allowed to play good shots. We did everything, like planning happening out in the centre. Rohit bhai was speaking to us, Jadeja was discussing on the lengths, lines, speeds. But then at the end of the day, if someone batted well, you have to give credit to them.

“He (Ollie Pope) really batted us out in the second innings, but it happens. In cricket and in any sport you have to learn, accept and move forward with the learnings, which were there a lot for us and we are definitely taking it forward,” said the wicketkeeper.

Friday’s match will also be Bharat’s first international match at his home ground in Visakhapatnam. Bharat was a ball-boy at the venue when MS Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 148 against Pakistan in an ODI game here in 2005 and began training with the Andhra Pradesh Ranji Trophy team as an 11-year-old.

Bharat was also felicitated by the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) on Thursday, with him being the third India Test-playing cricketer from the state after former chief selector MSK Prasad and veteran batter Hanuma Vihari.

“Playing in front of your home crowd is definitely special. But I am keeping the emotions aside, as I am looking to this as any other Test game which you are playing for your country. There will be a lot of noise when you are playing for your country. There will be good noises, bad noises, but the thing is you will have to be in the present moment.

“For me, it is a moment of pride about playing in front of your home crowd, but if you look at the bigger picture, there is a Test game which is supposed to be played and my whole focus and our whole focus is definitely on that. Yes, it’s an overwhelming feeling, but you have to let it sink and focus on the Test game,” he concluded.



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