After taking charge of the team in his second stint, India coach Ravi Shastri has tweaked team's preparation style and though it's early days, an immediate impact can be noticed.
A key implementation on, Shastri’s part is how the batters are now ever ready to bat in the heart. This has zero to do with batting order, instead a new practice of warming up before running down to the center.
It was evident in Galle itself when Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund, India’s pairing for the first Test, reached the ground before the remainder of the team. The mandate for them was to go to the nets and start hitting balls just in case India bat first.
As it worked out, Kohli did win the toss and the amply warmed-up Dhawan smashed 190 off 168 balls in the first innings.
By the time the openers went in, Cheteshwar Pujara had completed this procedure, while Virat Kohli was in the cyberspaces. It is a different approach to the previous regime, of course, and welcomed into the squad as well.
The underlining aspect of this new thought process from coach Shastri is his feeling that the team should exert its number one position on the airfield.
India was confirmed as the world's number one ranked Test side under Anil Kumble, romping to successive victories over the West Indies, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.
Shastri has also brought forward a certain distinction in the team’s thinking in the short span of time that he has spent with them so far.
In one of his first conversations with the squad, the coach had underlined the importance of loving the game before thinking of anything else. Obviously, he had called for the participants to recall why they had set about playing cricket and urged them to 'exhibit this love on the field'.
Caved in the short time frame of comparison, it might be harsh to highlight Kumble's coaching approach as a bit too methodical, if not mechanical.
Shastri’s first move has been to unshackle the players in his own inimitable style, whilst retaining a close collar on how things get their class within the grooming room. Thither is a great example of this as well. For some time now, the Indian team has a standing rule that injured or ill players will be paid back to their spots in the playing eleven when they earn a successful return to the squad after proving their fitness.
Evidently, in February when India was readying to play Bangladesh, Ajinkya Rahane, returning from injury, was not aware of his standing in the team’s plans.
It was only after Kohli highlighted in the pre-match press conference that Karun Nair despite his triple ton would have to make way for the vice-captain, did a clearer picture emerge.On that point is much clarity now in keeping with how things shaped up a couple years ago. Earlier past week, KL Rahul recovered sufficiently from his illness and linked up the team in Galle.
He even frolicked with his colleagues on Sunday as the Indian players spent their afternoon at a resort near their team hotel.
Although the team management hasn’t officially confirmed his return to full fitness, it is anticipated that he will be part of the playing eleven at the SSC in Colombo when the second Test begins on August 3.