India’s poor slip catching was being papered over by the tons of runs the batsmen had scored in the past one year but fluffing three regulation chances in the drawn third Test against Sri Lanka has raised a few questions.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli dropped easy catches in the slip cordon during the third Test and Cheteshwar Pujara, who is now being prepared for the specialist position, had to do a bit of firefighting for his colleagues in the post-match press conference.
Pujara put his hand first up and admitted that slip catching indeed has been a problem.
“To be honest we haven’t fielded well and I would accept that. At the same time there have been injuries with someone like Murali Vijay, who used to be at first slip not playing for six months. So we had to replace Vijay with someone else. We haven’t taken many catches but we will definitely get better at it,” Pujara said.
“Overall, the Indian team has improved as fielding unit, but slip fielding is something we are still looking to improve,” the top-order batsman added.
When asked if the reason for the misses had been identified, Pujara said he didn’t have a clue.
“It’s a difficult question to answer as I don’t know technically what is going wrong. I do agree that we haven’t taken enough catches but we are working hard. To be honest, we put in a lot of hard work in our fielding, especially we know catching is very important.
“All players standing in the slips are taking 50 to 100 catches. So we are trying to improve ourselves and eventually results will come,” a hopeful Pujari said.
Ajinkya Rahane, who normally fields at slip for the spinners, was stationed at gully for the pacers. So why has Rahane not been placed at the conventional slip position?
“Ajinkya has been fielding at gully for quite a long time. We don’t want to disturb him from there. And the way he is fielding when the spinners are bowling, he is anyway in the slip cordon.
“He is set there so we can’t keep on changing fielders. When he’s at gully, he knows the angles and he has an idea of where to stay, when he starts fielding at gully.”
Pujara said that discussions are on regarding who all would be fielding at the slip cordon in South Africa.
“We are having a chat about it and we will assign a few players throughout the away series. We will prepare a few players who will be standing at the slips. We will discuss when we reach South Africa but we are already talking about that,” he said.
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