India’s Asia Cup-bound players have begun arriving in Bengaluru for a six-day conditioning camp that begins on Thursday at the Karnataka State Cricket Association’s (KSCA) Three Ovals campus in Alur.
While fitness parameters of players, particularly those who returned from the Caribbean earlier this month, will be a key focus area, the camp also aims to serve as an exercise in team bonding before the focus shifts to the final stages of World Cup preparation.
Fifteen of the 18 players – the exceptions being Sanju Samson, Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna (all of whom are set to arrive in Bengaluru from Dublin late on Thursday) – will undergo fitness assessments followed by a few indoor sessions on the opening day. From Friday onwards, players will be divided into batches for the outdoor conditioning and skill-based programmes.
ESPNcricinfo understands the senior players, who didn’t take part in the T20Is in the Caribbean, were given personalised fitness and diet plans over the past two weeks. While this practice isn’t unique, India have been especially mindful of workloads keeping in mind the slew of injuries to key players over the past couple of years.
How KL Rahul pulls up will be of high interest. He has only been deemed conditionally fit for the Asia Cup. While he has fully recovered from a thigh injury for which he underwent surgery followed by a comprehensive rehabilitation at the NCA, Rahul is believed to have picked up a minor niggle that makes him a doubtful starter for at least the first two Asia Cup games. This was confirmed by chief selector Ajit Agarkar at the press conference to announce the squads on Monday.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the NCA’s medical team is believed to have been happy with Rahul’s batting workload but is carefully monitoring his wicketkeeping load; he is understood to have complained of soreness after one of the practice matches organised by the NCA last week.
Shreyas Iyer, meanwhile, is fully fit and ready to go. The camp marks his return to the senior set-up for the first time since the home Test series against Australia in March. Iyer has pulled up well after both practice games and has also been batting against net bowlers from the India A squad, who are at the NCA for a skill-based camp for emerging players.
The team is expected to depart for Colombo from Bengaluru on August 30. India, who open their campaign against Pakistan in Pallekele on September 2, can play a maximum of six matches if they reach the final. The Asia Cup will be followed by three ODIs at home against Australia before India begin their World Cup campaign.
On Wednesday, the ICC announced the warm-up fixtures for the tournament, with India playing England and Netherlands on September 30 and October 3 respectively, before flying out to Chennai where they take on Australia in their tournament-opener on October 8.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo