It was back to the grind for the Indian players on Monday. Having arrived in the city in batches on Sunday evening, they had their first practice session at the Eden Gardens here, the venue of the third Test match against England from Wednesday.

There was no warm-up session or the usual jogging around the park as the players made a beeline for the nets, with opener Virender Sehwag leading the way. It was serious stuff all right as pacers Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda and off spinner R Ashwin took turns to bowl at one of the most destructive batsmen in contemporary world cricket.

Even as the rank and file was busy in the nets, Team India coach Duncan Fletcher quietly walked up to the middle of the park to have a close look at the 22-yard strip being readied for the match. Fletcher was soon joined by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose demand for a square turner was rejected and even ridiculed by Cricket Association of Bengal's octogenarian curator Prabir Mukherjee.

The skipper was seen kneeling down on the track, knocking on the surface to gauge its firmness. The two then stood in the middle and exchanged notes. The much-anticipated meeting between Mukherjee and Dhoni did not materialise as both maintained their distance.

Harbhajan Singh, who is in line to play his 100th Test on his 'favourite' ground, had a long chat with Mukherjee before having a bowl in the nets. KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, who has a fair knowledge of the Eden track, also had a chat with Mukherjee.

Interestingly, neither Dhoni nor Fletcher spoke to BCCI's East Zone curator Asish Bhowmick, who was rushed from Agartala to 'assist' Mukherjee. Bhowmick left the Eden much before the Indian contingent arrived. There was no official comment from the Indian camp about the pitch.

Back in the nets, Fletcher paid special attention to Sachin Tendulkar, whose string of failures has been a major concern.

Unlike the English team which had to make do with only two spinners from among the local net bowlers, India had the luxury of quite a few local young tweakers and all their batsmen enjoyed a lengthy session in the nets.

In contrast, the Indian pacers did not bowl much. Zaheer, as is his wont, bowled the least. In fact, he batted longer than he bowled.

More stills

Keywords:Indian players, Eden Gardens,opener Virender Sehwag , pacers Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda , spinner R Ashwin, world cricket, Team India coach ,Duncan Fletcher , skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Cricket Association of Bengal, Prabir Mukherjee, Mukherjee , Dhoni ,Harbhajan Singh,BCCI, Asish Bhowmick,Zaheer,sports news,cricket news