Former India Mohammad Kaif has weighed in with his views on Indian players’ poor fielding in the ongoing tour of Australia. One of the best fielders in the history of Indian cricket, Mohammad Kaif has said that the reason behind the poor display on the field is players not giving as much importance to fielding and catching during practice as they are giving to batting and bowling.
Team India have dropped close to 20 catches in Australia across seven games in the three formats apart from other misfielding that have allowed runs to be leaked. Unsurprisingly, those dropped catches have hurt India badly and have also cost them games.
In the first Test, too, they dropped Marnus Labuschagne multiple times before dropping Tim Paine with Australia seven down for 111 and still 133 runs behind India. The Australia skipper took them to within 53 runs of India’s total of 244 from where they could fight back and win. Even the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli have dropped easy catches on the tour so far.
And ahead of the second Test, Mohammad Kaif has urged the Indian team to improve their fielding. The former cricketer even said that a player should be selected only if he reaches a standard of fielding. He also pointed out that the Indian players have been dropping the catches since this year’s IPL.
“We see brilliant catches, but overall if someone says Indian fielding is improving I will avoid commenting because what I’ve seen over the past five-six months, Indians have fielded very poorly, they have to improve a lot,” said Mohammad Kaif, on the eve of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“It is all a result of less training. Strictly speaking, a player should be selected in the XI only if he reaches a standard of fielding. A lot of catches are being dropped. Even Virat Kohli is dropping catches.
“Everyone is dropping, it is happening since IPL. Players had come straight from lock-down to IPL — there was rustiness I can understand since fielding is directly connected to fitness. Players were there for four months at home, it is not easy. But after three-four months, even in Australia it is happening. That is an issue to be worried about,” added Mohammad Kaif.
Kaif, who represented India in 125 One-day Internationals and 13 Test matches, said that only hard work on the field would yield results. He pointed out that the players spend the least amount of time in fielding and that is one of the reason behind the poor show on the field.
“If you work hard on the field, the body gets into rhythm on its own and the eye is automatically set on the ball. Generally, what I have observed is that players spend the least time on fielding. They spend a lot of time on batting and bowling and in the gym, but not on the ground, where actual fielding takes place. Slip fielding, square-leg fielding, catching at cover — every different angle brings a different challenge. Every area brings a new challenge. I feel players are practicing fielding less,” he said.