With a 9-day hiatus before the third Test, England’s cricket squad has jetted off to Abu Dhabi for a brief mid-tour respite. Following a missed opportunity to secure a 2-0 lead against India in the five-Test series, Ben Stokes and his team are aiming to capitalize on this break, albeit without their cricket gear, before reconvening in Rajkot for the upcoming Test match on February 15. Meanwhile, what are the plans for Rohit Sharma’s Indian team during this extended break?

India faced a setback in the first Test, succumbing to a 28-run defeat against England, wherein Ollie Pope’s remarkable 196 led to the visitors’ triumph. Despite the absence of key players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, the hosts staged a remarkable comeback in the second Test held in Visakhapatnam, clinching a commanding 106-run victory. Yashasvi Jaiswal’s record-breaking double century and Shubman Gill’s maiden century at No. 3, followed by Jasprit Bumrah’s stellar nine-wicket haul, leveled the series at 1-1.

Post the second Test, the England squad departed for Abu Dhabi to unwind from cricketing duties. England head coach Brendon McCullum remarked on Tuesday that the break will be laid-back, with minimal training involved. McCullum emphasized the intense efforts put in by the players during their time in Abu Dhabi, considering their packed cricket schedules prior to this tour.

As for the plans of the Indian team during the break, there has been no official confirmation. Coach Rahul Dravid wasn’t questioned regarding the team’s agenda for the next nine days, and none of the players provided insights post the Vizag match. However, McCullum, having gleaned information from Dravid, disclosed that the Indian cricketers will be heading back home.

“I was talking to Rahul Dravid, the India coach, and he mentioned that all his boys are heading home as well,” said the former New Zealand cricketer. “For us, home is a little further away, so we opted for Abu Dhabi to spend time with our families. Upon reaching Rajkot, we’ll reset and focus on the task ahead.”

As per a report by News 18, the Indian players are expected to reunite for the third Test on February 12, with their first training session scheduled for the following day at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium. Similarly, England players will return the following Monday, gearing up with a practice session two days prior to the commencement of proceedings in Rajkot.

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