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ICC World Cup: This Team India fielder is the only player who needs to be hid on the field

ICC World Cup: The Indian fielding coach acknowledged that captain Virat Kohli is India’s best fielder but mentioned the name of another player who he thinks is giving the captain a run for his money as the team’s best out fielder.

cricket Updated: Jun 20, 2019 20:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ICC World Cup,R Sridhar,Team India
Screengrab of Team India fielding coach R Sridhar speaking during a press conference.(Twitter)

One of Team India’s biggest asset in the ongoing ICC World Cup so far has been the team’s impeccable fielding standards. The overall fitness of the unit has gone up and even the players perceived to be average are saving runs on the field. The one man responsible for this big change in India cricket is fielding coach R Sridhar. In an interview to ESPNCricinfo, Sridhar said that the process of improving India’s fielding standards started immediately after the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

“In the very first match of the 2017 Champions Trophy we were off the boil. We won the game by a margin, but we dropped a few catches. After we lost to Sri Lanka, the game against South Africa became a virtual quarter-final. In that match we outfielded South Africa. Hardik [Pandya] ran out AB de Villiers, and [Jasprit] Bumrah also ran out someone. We fielded brilliantly.

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So the main takeaway for me was: how can there be such a big difference between our good day and our bad day? There onwards my endeavour has been to reduce that gap...Also on the priority list was working on the athleticism and agility of the players. We wanted them to cut the angles, stop those twos into ones,” Sridhar informed during the interview.

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Asked about the importance of the yo-yo test and Sridhar said that it has helped the team become fitter.

“The yo-yo test is a comprehensive assessment of your energy systems. Cricket is played over six-plus hours and is an explosive sport. It tests your endurance levels, elasticity, etc.

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“If the player is able to clear the mandatory [qualifying] level in the yo-yo test, he not only has the confidence of being fit but is also aware of the fact that he can do it repeatedly...The fielder then has the confidence and fitness to get his breath back in 20 seconds and again be on his toes and give 100% the next ball. What it does is keep the intensity of the team really high and inspire the other fielders. Fitter fielders mean faster fielders. Faster fielders mean saving more runs,” Sridhar said.

Asked about India’s weakest fielder currently and Sridhar named leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. He though said that Chahal is a work in progress currently.

“He (Chahal) is a work in progress. He is working hard, but it is just that his hands are very, very small. He has very, very thin fingers. There is hardly anything to absorb the pace and intensity with which the ball comes...He is a good ground fielder and has a terrific arm. He slides and dives well at the boundary, and is a reasonably good chaser too. His arm can be very deceptive.

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“The only challenge is catching. He does not make a good cup with his hands. The skeletal fingers don’t help either. He is not a bad catcher; he just drops catches off his own bowling. Since 2017 leading up to the Australian series in India in 2019, Chahal missed nine catches [eight off his own bowling and one in the outfield]. Having said that, I want to highlight that he has had injuries - three or four fractures to his fingers on both hands. But he is resilient. He bounced back well in the Australian series recently in India where he was very safe. With him, we train with tennis balls, soft balls, so he can absorb them [catches] better,” Sridhar said while talking about Chahal’s progress as a fielder.

The Indian fielding coach acknowledged that captain Virat Kohli is India’s best fielder but mentioned the name of another player who he thinks is giving the captain a run for his money as the team’s best out fielder.

“It is neck and neck. Jaddu is running Virat very close now, although Jaddu has played fewer matches. But since Asia Cup, Jaddu has been giving Virat a run for his money,” Sridhar told ESPNCricinfo.

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 14:44 IST