Team England is in Abu Dhabi for a short mid-tour break. Having lost the opportunity to go 2-0 up against India in the five-Test contest, Ben Stokes and his men will be hoping to make the most of his this break, albeit without their cricket kits, before reassembling in Rajkot for the third Test against India, which will be on February 15. But what will the Indian players be up to during these 9 days of break?
India had suffered a 28-run loss against England in the first Test where Ollie Pope had smashed a match-winning 196. Despite being without Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, the hosts bounced back sensationally to thrash the visitors by 106 runs in the second Test in Visakhapatnam. Yashasvi Jaiswal smashed a record double century, while Shubman Gill silenced his critics with a maiden ton at No. 3 before Jasprit Bumrah picked up a nine-wicket haul, the best bowling figures by an Indian seamer against England in 40 years, as India levelled the series at 1-1.
Following the second Test, England players left for Abu Dhabi, to spend some time off from cricket. “It will be pretty relaxed,” England head coach Brendon McCullum said on Tuesday. “There will not be a whole lot of training. The boys have worked incredibly hard in Abu Dhabi keeping in mind they all came here with a lot of cricket under their belt as well. We have had plenty of training days, two varying Test matches and this is an opportunity to step away from the heat of the battle.”
India head coach Rahul Dravid wasn’t queried on what the plans were for the Indian players over the next nine days. Neither did any of the players confirm after the match in Vizag. However, McCullum, who had Dravid as his source of information, revealed that the Indian cricketers will be heading home.
“I was talking to Rahul Dravid [the India coach] and he mentioned all his boys are shooting home as well,” the former New Zealand cricketer said. “Home for us a little way away so we chose Abu Dhabi and we are going to enjoy the families. Then when we get to Rajkot, we drop the shoulder and go hard.”
According to a report in News 18, Indian players are expected to regroup for the third Test on February 12 and have their first training session the following day at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium. England players too will be returning next Monday and have a practice session two days before the proceedings kick off in Rajkot.