By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Chennai, Feb 6 (IANS) Indians have dropped four catches in the first two days of their first Test against England leading to the visitors piling up a huge score here. Yajurvindra Singh, former world record holder for most catches in a Test, attributed these lapses to players possibly not taking catching and fielding seriously, especially close-in fielding.
Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and spinners R Ashwin, Shahbaz Nadeem, and Washington Sundar were the sufferers as England took full advantage of the reprieves to pile up 555 for eight wickets in the first two days at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, and Ashwin — who dropped a return catch — were the offenders.
Bumrah, playing in his 18th Test and the first one in India, was left ruing his luck as Pant dropped England opener Rory Burns on his right-hand side. Burns was on one at the time and ended up scoring 33 on the first day.
On the second day, Ashwin dropped a tough catch of all-rounder Ben Stokes off his bowling when he was on 31 in the 110th over of the innings. In the next over, Stokes got another lifeline as this time, Pujara dropped him off Nadeem. Stokes was on 32 and went on to score 82 runs. Towards the close of play, Rohit dropped a sitter offered by Dominic Bess off Sundar. Bess was on 19 then and he is still batting on 28, along with Jack Leach (6).
A specialist close-in fielder, Yajurvindra, who took seven catches in 1977 to equal the world record of Australia’s Greg Chappell before Ajinkya Rahane broke it by grabbing one more in 2015, was at a loss to explain the reasons for Indians dropping catches regularly.
“How do you explain these dropped catches? Maybe the players are not taking enough catches in practice. The Indian team got three days to practice before the first Test against England started on Friday. And the time that they got for practice, maybe their focus was on batting and bowling, and not on fielding or catching,” Yajurvindra, 68, told IANS after the end of second day’s play.
Yajurvindra, who took five catches in England’s first innings in Bengaluru and added two more in the second, said that only specialists should be fielding in close-in positions.
“Fielding at close-in positions requires a lot of practice; the positions, including mid-wicket and cover, are not to be fooled around with. When non-specialists like Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill would field in close-in positions, how do you expect them to take catches? It was funny that Rahane, who specialises in close-in fielding, didn’t field close to batsmen,” he observed.
“People are not taking close-in fielding seriously. Also, one-day and T20 cricket has been detrimental to fielding close to the batsman, as they now practice fielding inside the 30-yard circle. If you are a specialist close-in fielder, you also adjust where you stand, according to the bounce of the pitch. A specialist has the ability to judge the bounce,” Yajurvindra said.