India’s fielding has been getting exposed game after game and it’s just the sheer basics that I am observing being compromised. I am not even counting the dropped catches as they are a lot more common. You can practice catching as much as you want to, but in the given situation, if it pops out – it pops out! My concern is just the basic ground fielding, wicket-keeping, and the lack of awareness that has been costing India some of the crucial phases in the game.
There are a few moments from the recent past that have got stuck in the head. The likes of Beth Mooney and Katey Martin have been very smart and made a mockery out of India’s fielding. They knew where India’s weakness lies and they have hit the nail perfectly.
Here are some of them which give us an indication of how much improvement is required and where more emphasis needs to be placed.
#1 – Australia vs. India | 2nd ODI | Batter – Beth Mooney
The 2nd ODI between Australia and India ended up being known for the no-ball controversy, but people never focused enough on how bad India’s fielding was in the last over. There was so much chaos that simple moments escaped the attention.
13 required off 6 balls and Mooney nudges one to the leg side. The timing was so good that there was never a two in it. The ball goes quickly to Pooja Vastrakar at deep midwicket.
Pic: Vastrakar is in the motion of throwing the ball and look at where Mooney is. She has just turned around with full confidence (batting on 122* off 131) knowing that she will make it because the fielder won’t be up to the task. She had absolutely no chances of making it had Vastrakar been even half-accurate.
Pic: In comes Vastrakar’s powerful throw, but look at where it ends up. It is well wide of the stumps and Mooney is short of the crease by miles. Richa had no choice, but to run forward and collect the wide throw.
Pic: What’s worse? The sheer lack of match and situational awareness not only on one count but two counts! Mooney is easily in, but Richa fires in an unnecessary off-balanced throw.
On the 2nd count, Rajeshwari Gayakwad is ball-watching. There’s no anticipation at all and hence, no backing up!
Pic: The resulting factor is three runs. What should’ve been just 1 run or even a run-out, became 3 runs with the equation coming down to 10 off 5.
#2 – Australia vs. India | 2nd ODI | Batter – Beth Mooney
The very same over saw another non-existent two being stolen. The equation was 2 required off 1 ball and Australia were always running two. Remember basics: At the fag end of the innings or in desperate times, the non-striker will start running even before the striker has hit the ball. This means that he/she has more chances of making it into the crease safely than the batter who was on strike. So, the throw should generally be at the strikers’ end.
Pic: Here’s Mooney making mockery again. Jemimah is literally about to release the ball and look at where Nicola Carey (red circle) is. She has just completed turning around and the throw should have gone to her end and not the non-strikers’ end where Mooney was heading to.
Pic: Here’s the next frame where the ball has been released by Jemimah. Look at where Carey is. She is not even halfway down the pitch and she was never going to make it had the throw been to the keeper.
Pic: To no surprise, Mooney makes it in easily by the time Jhulan Goswami collects the ball. Another error and game’s lost.
#3 – New Zealand vs. India | Only T20I | Batter – Katey Martin
This one is going to haunt me for a while. It did when I watched it live. There were several errors on just this one ball itself. In the last over of the 1st innings, Katey Martin ran two without any fear whatsoever despite running to the danger end. I will break this event into several parts.
Pic: Brooke Halliday lofts one to long-off and the ball was not middled which meant it did not travel at a rapid pace to Deepti Sharma. The ball has barely crossed the 30-yards circle and Katey Martin has already completed 1 run!
Take a note of where Deepti is and also consider that the ball is not travelling at a rapid pace to her.
Pic: While Martin is coming back for a 2nd run, Halliday has not even made it the crease yet. Meanwhile, DEEPTI HAS BARELY MOVED and is instead waiting for the ball to come to her.
Pic: Halliday now reaches the crease and is looking to turn back, whereas Martin is on her way sprinting back for the 2nd run like a teen! Deepti is still in the same grass space collecting the ball.
Basics: You have to charge the ball and not wait for the ball to come to you. Remember what I asked to take a note of? The ball is not travelling quickly.
Pic: Observe Halliday. She turns around and observes hell. She never knew Martin was coming back for a second and is caught unawares. She stops in her tracks as you can observe in the pic. This was incredibly smart and brave from the experienced Martin!
Pic: Deepti does the right thing here. She chooses the right end. But, wait! What is Richa Ghosh doing? The throw had decent power and it was needless to walk down the pitch to collect a throw that was potentially going to hit the stumps and catch Halliday short.
Conclusion: If you look at the fielders involved in the events mentioned, they are some of India’s best fielders. Yes, they lack basics and have a massive scope of improvement. But, I can’t put much blame on any of these fielders.
The game awareness need not to be taught, but what about the other basics? I don’t know who the fielding coach is or what fielding drills he/she gives and a part of the reason is because that they never come into the spotlight when errors are made. Anyway, something is clearly wrong somewhere and it needs to change as soon as possible or else the problems will accentuate in the windy New Zealand during the World Cup.
These are the times when the spotlight comes on the players and not the coaches. The light is shed on the players for all the wrong reasons at a time when the coaches/management must be questioned.