Former captain of India Mohammed Azharuddin The field of concentration of players when fielding feels that it is not up to the desired level
Kochi: ‘Cats win matches’ is a popular cricket phrase, though it is not always so. The limited-overs leg of the India-Australia series is a good example of Virat Kohli’s boys winning the T-20 series and the final one-day match, despite spilling half-a-dozen catches and displaying some slow ground fielding.
A strong comeback after successive defeats in the first two ODIs overshadowed India’s poor performance on the field. Not that the usual suspects are spoiled, but some of India’s best – Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya – have dropped sitters. While their butterflies are a sore point, ground fielding has also left much to be desired.
“Sometimes it happens, the catches drop,” said India’s deputy captain, K.L., after the second ODI in Sydney. “I can’t pinpoint what the exact problem is, but whenever I’m fielding in Australia, the ball moves with the crowd in the background. It’s a little bit difficult to identify. And, we’re playing in front of a crowd a long time. So it’s a little hard.”
Rahul was not weakly defending India’s poor performance on the field, and was one of the world’s best all-around fielders of his time, former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin.
“You don’t practice fielding in front of large crowds. Do you? But players still take catches in front of 20,000-30,000 people. So what’s new now?” Azar told TOI.
India has long served field coaches in R. Shridhar, but their performances on the field have been dwindling since the World Cup in England. Indian fielders muffed chances during the home series against the West Indies last year and the tour of New Zealand earlier this year. This trend continues to be alarming in Australia too.
“We’ve got some good fielders. But now they are not catching catches and making silly mistakes on the field. There is a lot about fielding concentration and I feel that there is a decline in our concentration level when they are fielding players,” Azhar said.
“Nowadays, we don’t have good fields. Now, the players have better conditions for fielding. They have a special fielding coach and other back-up staff to support. And if players drop catches and make mistakes, then you have to question the fielding coach – why is that happening?” Said.
India ‘A’ and Under-19 fielding coach Abhay Sharma hope the “innovative fielding sessions” team will enjoy fielding practice. “You have to make sure these innovative drills are connected to the basics, so that the standards set by the team set the benchmark for others. The players should look forward to the fielding sessions.
India may have gotten away with its shortcomings in the field of limited overs, but the Test series begins in 10 days. Catching, especially slip-catching, is a crucial factor in the test and knowing what the results are. Although India has some good fieldfielders, Ajinkya Rahane is no better than Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid or VVS. He does not promise slip catchers in Laxman’s mold.
If the problems plaguing the fielding sector are not addressed immediately, India may have to pay a heavy price in the coming days.
(With input by Gaurav Gupta)

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