India U-19 team’s fielding coach, Abhay Sharma feels right preparation was the key to India’s success.
Notably, India won the World Cup for the fourth time beating Australia by eight wickets. For Sharma, working freely was what made it easy for the support staffs.
“Once I knew I had the freedom to do work my way it cleared the way for an excellent partnership,” Abhay said.
Indian team is known to be good at home, as it is evident from their records. Abhay further revealed they were keen to change the perception.
“It is always said that India is good at home mainly. We wanted to change that perception. We are known to adapt slowly but the trend has changed in the last few years and this time what counted was the preparation,” Abhay added.
For Sharma, preparation was the key. Abhay feels camping at Alur worked diligently.
“There were no distractions of a big city. We have asked for green surfaces and pitches with spongy bounce keeping in mind what we were to encounter in New Zealand. Each session was planned,” insisted Abhay.
Abhay mentioned he introduced innovative drills for wind conditions by using the synthetic balls.
“The ball wobbles in New Zealand, and it becomes tough when the ball gains height. I used bowling machines to slice the catches to fielders in the slips, gully, point and square leg. The terrific catching that you saw in the slips was the result of the preparation,” Abhay mentioned.
Abhay also pointed out how they worked on the reaction time of fielders. He took out instances from the journey to back his point.
Abhay, who was himself a U-19 coach said cricket had changed a lot in comparison the earlier days.
“Cricket is not one skill game. You could do it on the 70s and 80s. Not anymore. It is a three-skill game (batting, bowling, and fielding). Each skill complements the other. Brilliant fielders not stop runs but also create an opportunity for catches and run outs. We always had three fielders to cover a throw. It encouraged direct hits,” Abhay added.
Abhay mentioned praises from Indian head coach Rahul Dravid have summed up his work.
“Rahul said in team meetings that our fielding standards have become a benchmark for the others,” concluded Abhay.
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