Cricket

Good fielding teams hunt in packs, says Sridhar

R Sridhar.

R Sridhar.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

R. Sridhar does not speak of his players being better than the rest; nor does he boast of any radical transformation. India’s fielding coach says his men live by a simple code out on the ground: “No ball shall pass you without your best effort.”

It is a philosophy, he feels, that allows no comparisons. “In our team, each guy brings something to the table,” he said here on Tuesday. “(Ravindra) Jadeja is a wonderful and natural athlete, Virat (Kohli) gets in the intensity and energy, Ajinkya (Rahane) brings in the sharpness close-in… Good fielding teams hunt in packs.”

India’s fielding has been largely impressive this series, with the catching around the bat an important factor in the victory in Mohali. On the first day of the second Test here in Bengaluru, India’s fielders swallowed a couple of half-chances.

“The players are the ones pushing me. ‘I want to move to my left and get my throw right; I want slip catches low on the right,’ things like that.” he said.

Sridhar, who was appointed to the job at the end of India’s Test series in England last year, hailed Rahane’s work in the slips. “He’s got the temperament and demeanour to be a good slip fielder. He works really hard at it. He takes hundreds of catches, and is very specific about where he wants them, at what height, and what he’s likely to get in the match. Also he’s got excellent understanding of the angles, the pace, the depth of the ball which is likely to come.”

Sridhar pointed to how Cheteshwar Pujara had worked on his fitness to improve his fielding close-in. “Pujara is now much more agile with his feet. If you recollect the catch he took off Faf (du Plessis) here — as Faf stepped out, you could see Pujara skipping sideways along with Faf that enabled him to take that catch. He’s been working on strengthening the area around his knee so that he can become more nimble with his footwork.”

“Standing in the same position over a period of time gives the fielder the perception. He may not get a catch the whole day but at least it helps him develop perception which is so vital to being a close-in fielder, along with reflexes and hand-eye coordination. Pujara has been getting that experience standing close-in and he has been improving,” he said.

Sridhar admitted that the team would prefer to have a settled slips cordon. “But injury is something we can’t control,” he said. “In Sri Lanka, Shikhar (Dhawan) and (Murali) Vijay got injured. Then we saw (K.L.) Rahul in at slip. We always have the luxury of having Virat and Ajinkya at slip. Also we do have plans like having a left-hander in the outside slip for left-hand batsmen and a right-hander for right-hand batsmen.”

Sridhar was pleased at how attitudes towards fielding in India had changed over the years. “It used to something that you did when you were not batting or bowling. But today, the senior and junior cricketers know they can make a contribution to the team by just being a good fielder. It’s a big shift in mind-set.”

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Printable version | Mar 25, 2020 2:49:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/good-fielding-teams-hunt-in-packs-says-sridhar/article7888866.ece

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