In England, the rain is never far away. The clouds almost always have a greyish hue. As a consequence, the covers are always placed behind the boundary ropes. When West Indies opener Johnson Charles hoisted Virat Kohli over deep extra cover, the ball crossed the ropes and went under the covers. For a few minutes, India’s fielders kept looking for the ball, but to no avail. As the players kept searching under the covers, the crowd let out a collective chuckle. Finally, with a little help from volunteers, they were able to find the ball, which drew a sarcastic round of applause. This was the only instant when India’s fielders looked lost in this campaign.
India’s fielding hasn’t always been the team’s forte. In their last major international ODI series abroad, the CB Series in Australia early last year, such was the tension over ‘slow’ fielders that it accentuated the rift between skipper MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag.
Dhoni’s plan of rotating three senior players — Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir — led to callous back and forth arguments, mostly in the public forum of post-match press conferences.
On Tuesday, after his man-of-the-match performance, Ravindra Jadeja took a dig at the lethargy normally associated with India fielders. "I think it’s helped that we have a great fielding unit. The skipper doesn’t have to hide any one," he said.
The way India have fielded so far in the tournament, you understand what Dhoni was talking about all along. Rohit Sharma has been so brilliant that Dhoni jogged a good 20 yards to congratulate him after an acrobatic stop at point that restricted a certain Darren Bravo four to a single.
Jadeja himself has set high standards. His run out of Robin Peterson, after a brilliant diving stop, changed the tide against South Africa. Suresh Raina has been impeccable. Even Dinesh Karthik, a wicket-keeper, has held good catches running back.
In training sessions, India’s new-found dedication is in evidence. Fielding coach Trever Penney should be credited in this regard, and all the players take part in special fielding drills with zest.