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Kohli, Rohit and Co. sweep in the nets as India polish their counter-attacking options on turners

 Removing his helmet and wiping the sweat dripping off his temple, Virat Kohli vigorously scraped a part of the pitch with his studs and instructed left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar to land the ball in the stud-dented rough. Kumar, a loopy spinner, landed the next ball on the exact spot, whereupon Kohli executed a reverse sweep that trickled off his under-edge. Dissatisfied at his attempt, he told Kumar to hit the area again, and in his third try he sweet-spotted the reverse sweep that cracked ferociously onto an iron pole to which the nets are tied.

A visibly content Kohli then walked upto Ishan Kishan, who was in the adjoining nets and trying the exact shot, and made a point about Kishan’s collapsing front knee, before the pair rolled in peels of laughter. “Dikha do, dikha do, tere front foot kaise ja raha hain,” and Kohli would impersonate Kishan’s front-foot stride. After the short break, Kohli resumed his batting hit-downs, though the reverse sweep did not resurface. Flowed a flurry of his staple strokes, the swat-flicks, but this time against the turn of the left-arm spinners, wispy drives down the ground and in the air, stepping out to the pitch of the ball each time, and back-cuts off spinners’ short-of-good-length.

Throughout the 90-odd-minute session, he rarely defended, or looked to defend, off either foot. Kumar beat him in the air a few times, but Kohli was unhindered. Anything slightly short, he pulled, or short of length onto his body, he rode the bounce and drove with the angle. It seemed as though he was inclined to hit himself back into his pristine touch rather than grind and graft or look to survive. Looking to survive on a turner, to just go blocking could be a self-destructive strategy on a viciously spitting and spinning surface, as the past spin-masters would advise. Attack them, dishevel the lines, throw their best-laid plans off-kilter, like the good’ol subcontinental batsmen did. That seemed to have been the brief to India’s batsmen—to attack spinners and wear them to submission, as all Indian batsmen were in a mood to attack in their four-hour training session in Nagpur.

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