Team India has been in exceptional form in Tests, especially at home as they won 11 consecutive series with a 3-0 whitewash over South Africa.
One of the biggest reasons for that was India’s fielding, and the man behind drastic improvement in fielding standards, R Sridhar, talked to the Times of India about how this change came about, and more.
“In my opinion, the perception of Indian fielding has changed in the last few years. Faf (du Plessis) lauded Indian fielders’ dominance over South Africa.
“Even during the World Cup, the opposition captains spoke highly about our fielding. I think the focus for that has come from the top as to what (coach) Ravi Shastri or Virat wants. Even a newcomer like Shahbaz Nadeem, the change has been in two areas: mindset and fitness. Changing the mindset is pertaining to what the teams want to achieve, and fitness was a crucial part of that.”
The fielding coach did not shy away from terming Ravindra Jadeja as the best fielder in the team, and said that he has an intimidating presence on the field.
“Jaddu’s presence on the field lifts the team’s spirits. He is someone who can keep the opposition on their toes with his fielding. He has an intimidating presence on the field.
“I wouldn’t like to go very far but in the last decade or so Jadeja has been the best fielder India has had,” Sridhar added.
Sridhar also talked about the ever-rising question of the comparison between Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant, and how he wasn’t concerned about Saha hitting peak again after a long injury layoff.
“There were no concerns at all. He (Saha) was easing into the rigours of international cricket during the West Indies series. He had also played a few games for India ‘A’ before that. Once we were playing in India, we brought back Saha. He is our best wicketkeeper and his skills were for all to see during the India-SA series.”
He added, “It’s unfair to compare the two as both Saha and Rishabh have their strengths. One is young, while the other is experienced. Rishabh is our future and Saha is our present and both are doing brilliantly.”
Also, asked what is the area where India need to improve upon their fielding, Sridhar said, “Developing a pool of players who can field at slip cordon is an area we are working on. In shorter formats, lateral movement and throwing from the deep are the areas we are focusing on as we head into the World T20 next year.”