India have won two back-to-back tournaments in the past two months, which helped them retain their ‘numero uno’ status in the 50-overs format. The young and highly talented Indian team gave a scintillating performance in both the departments – batting and bowling. But one more factor that helped India immensely to lift two major trophies in a row was its electrifying fielding.
With the likes of Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, the current Indian squad has six outstanding fielders that can change the course of the game with a crucial run-out or a fine catch. Electric in their reflexes, these live-wires are a sight to watch in action. One common factor among all these fielders is that they are almost of the same age group which creates a healthy competition among them.
In an exclusive chat with Zee Media former Indian fast bowler Javagal Srinath also feels that it’s a fine fielding unit as he said: “Without a doubt this Indian team is by far the best ever fielding unit in the history of Indian cricket. A complete team I must say.”
Another former cricketer Atul Wassan believes that this Indian unit has five to six excellent fielders. “Certainly it’s the best fielding unit for India. Even in the Champions Trophy, Indian fielding played a crucial role. Fitness is the mantra that converted India into a decent fielding unit,” Wassan told Zee Media.
Average fielding has always been one of India’s biggest let downs. Despite a long cricketing history, India always struggled to form a team that could be counted as decent fielding unit. Names like Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Ajay Jadeja, Mohammad Azharuddin, Robin Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Yuraj Singh and a couple more surely fall in the category of outstanding fielders but as a team India was always counted as a lethargic unit when it came to fielding. Now though, one can say that India team has finally broken the shackles to come out as a fine fielding unit.
In fact, Indian fast bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are fine fielders in the outfield. Now that’s a rare sight to watch in Indian cricket -- fast bowlers coming under the bracket of decent fielders. Javagal Srinath feels the same as he told Zee Media: “These bowlers don’t have heavy legs; they bend their backs and have strong arms. These qualities make them decent fielders.”
In fact, skipper MS Dhoni has also gradually shown quite an improvement in his wicket-keeping. So, if we look at this young unit, it’s certainly the best fielding unit by far in the history of Indian cricket. The only fielders who have to work harder on their fielding are Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin.
At the moment, Indian fielding unit at least stands right next to the teams that are best in the business – Australia and South Africa. But according to Atul Wassan: “If India fielders perform this way for next two to three seasons they can definitely match the standards of South Africa and Australia.”
It’s not just about having a good fielding unit, it’s also about field placements and having the right man at right the position. However, if you have a skipper like Dhoni, who has a tremendous cricketing acumen, it’s not all that tough.
In the last two tournaments that India have played and won, Dhoni made sure that he had right fielders at the right places. Raina is a fielder who can field at any position with the same precision and the skipper knows it quite well. That is why Dhoni places Raina at crucial and busy areas. Raina stands at slip during the initial overs, but then he is shifted inside the ring to stop the singles, and during the death overs, Dhoni places him at either deep mid-on or mid-off to patrol the boundaries.
If we leave the recent scuffle between Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja behind (when Raina dropped two catches in the bowling of Jadeja), whenever Indian team comes to field there is an altogether a different energy among the fielders, which is hopefully here to stay...