Sports

Slip fielding needs improvement, admits Pujara

Slip fielding needs improvement, admits Pujara

But their sustained slump in slip catching has left a visible oddity to the gait of the No.1 Test side.

"It is not just about playing Test cricket".

Cheteshwar Pujara sought to play down the ineffectiveness of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the third Test against Sri Lanka, saying the fifth day Feroz Shah Kotla strip did not even have the bare minimum assistance for spinners.

With Kohli rested from Sri Lanka ODIs and T20Is, the 3rd Test against Sri Lanka side was his last outing of the year. Mathews would've skipped a beat when the ball travelled towards the slips for the second time, when he was on 98, but Rohit Sharma saved him the heartache of missing another century opportunity in India by such a narrow margin. Their partnership helped them to avoid the follow-on.

With fitness being on agenda, India players have become better athletes, their ground fielding has improved, but nobody from the camp has been able to say why the same fielders seem to resemble non-stick cookware at slips. Pujara hasn't a clue.

"Difficult question to answer as I don't know, technically, what is going wrong", Pujara said. All players standing in the slips are taking 50 to 100 catches. We are trying to improve. Despite winning the three-match series against Sri Lanka 1-0, India dropped quite a few catches, thanks to the rotation of various players in the crucial slip positions. "So, Pujara has a very important role to play", he said.

"To be honest, we haven't fielded well [in the slips] and I would accept that". At the same time, there have been injuries. "At the same time, there have been injuries". So we had to replace Vijay with someone. In the squad selected for South Africa, most of the players have been part of the team, who played in South Africa and Australia before.

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"We haven't taken many catches (in the slips) but we will definitely get better at it", Pujara, a reliable slip fielder himself, told reporters on Wednesday.

One of the areas in which Indian cricket team has improved drastically under the leadership of Virat Kohli in the recent times is their fielding.

There's also a case for Ajinkya Rahane's absence from the slip cordon against the pacers.

"If you look at the number of wickets [Ashwin and Jadeja] have taken, it is remarkable", said Pujara, in defence of his teammates. The frequent changes in the slip cordon has added to the problem. The game, which ended in a draw, though, would be primarily remembered for Virat Kohli's double hundred and the sight of Sri Lankan players wearing masks and leaving the field on the second day due to rising level of pollution.

In the third Test, expectations were that the fifth-day surface surface would be the ideal hunting ground for R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

"So, I really feel we are set up for what, hopefully, will be a successful away series for India. When he's at gully, he knows the angles, he has the idea of where to stay when he starts fielding at gully". "We will prepare a few players who will be standing in the slips". "We have already started talking about the things we need to work on".


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