"There are no Kumbles in our team," a South African reporter had joked when asked how they had developed into such a strong fielding unit. This was during their second Test of a two-match series against India, at the Eden Gardens in November 2004. Over the years, India have developed into a decent fielding unit but the current crop is simply outstanding on the field.
Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Manoj Tiwary (although he is yet to get a place in the 11 in this series) are all livewires inside the circle as is Gautam Gambhir, who showed signs of having recovered fully from a series of injuries during the England tour. Parthiv Patel without the
'keeping gloves is not a dud either. The visitors, on the other hand, have dropped catches and their ground fielding has been sloppy.
Leading by example
MS Dhoni, with regained confidence after getting back to winning ways, sets high standards himself. The catch he took to dismiss Kevin Pietersen, diving low as the ball was dying on him, at the Ferozshah Kotla on Monday and the run out of Jade Dernbach were performances of a 'keeper high on self-belief. "This is one of the good things IPL has taught us," former Mumbai coach Praveen Amre told HT. "T20 is very competitive and a misfield can cost you the match. These youngsters are all IPL regulars and so their fielding is spot on," he added.
India's practice sessions, however, do not have elaborate fielding drills that England usually begin their training with. It's more about individual sessions with fielding coach Trevor Penny.
"We have sort of started to warm-up with fielding now. It's like a daily routine for us. It's left to the individuals. Whenever you have time before nets or after your practice, you go and do some fielding. All of us are trying everyday to improve as a fielding unit."
"It makes a huge difference if you can save 10-15 runs in the first 10 overs. It also sends
out a message to the opposition and sometimes they are not sure whether to take us on. We still need to go a long way; we have to be one of the best fielding sides in the future," said the optimistic Kohli.
"Everyone enjoys fielding at home because you have 60,000 people backing you. Even if you are feeling slightly off on a particular day, when you hear the crowd backing you, it gets exciting and is a big boost. It comes from within. You can't really teach someone to enjoy fielding," Kohli added.