India keen to make fielding superiority count against Pakistan: Sridhar

NOTTINGHAM: India’s fielders have been razor-sharp in their opening World Cup games but fielding coach R. Sridhar said on Thursday that they cannot afford a drop in their intensity against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday. Pakistan looked sloppy in their defeat by Australia in Taunton, where Sarfraz Ahmed’s team dropped catches, one by the skipper himself, in a display plagued by misfields including over-throws. In contrast, India out-fielded Australia in their victory at The Oval last Sunday. “Fielding, I’d say, is vital in every match,” Sridhar told reporters at Trent Bridge after India’s match against New Zealand was washed out. “We saw that at The Oval on Sunday when we played Australia. Although we had a big total on the board, we had to field out of our skins to defend the total. “I think we should look to out-field opponents, not only in the next game, but also in all games, and we expect our opponents to do the same. We should go out there with our best intensity.” Sarfraz has warned his team that they cannot afford to be so sloppy on the field against India after the 1992 champions dropped three catches amid other misfields in their 41-run loss to title-holders Australia on Wednesday. “If you want to beat the big teams we can’t make such mistakes,” Sarfraz said. “Our fielding is not up to the mark and we will work hard on that before the India match.” India have a safe slip catcher in Rohit Sharma, while skipper Virat Kohli and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who fielded for injured Shikhar Dhawan at The Oval, are versatile enough to field anywhere. All-rounder Hardik Pandya is also supremely athletic but Sridhar was particularly happy with the commitment of quick bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who threw himself around even after bowling long spells. The only improvement Sridhar has targeted is greater accuracy with direct throws. “It is something which I have my eye on as well, and we practise a lot for that,” he said. “I’d say hitting, whether it’s an run-out or not, one in three or four throws is a good conversion rate. “In my opinion, if you’re hitting one out of four, you’re doing a good job as a direct unit, but we failed to do that in the last game. “We had over 10 strikes, and we hit only once. In some days we hit three out of five. It’s about practice and that is one area we work hard on in every session.” Bumrah is the world’s number one-ranked One-day International bowler, but Sridhar said that as a fielder he is still a work in progress. “Bumrah is probably one of the hardest workers as far as fielding goes,” said Sridhar. “From when he joined the team in 2016 to what he is now, he’s a massive improvement, although still a work in progress, but a massive improvement.” Sridhar insisted India will not dwell on Thursday’s washout but rather take confidence from their two wins ahead of this weekend’s blockbuster match at Old Trafford. “You really can’t control the weather, so we’ve had two good games,” he said. “I went on the [Trent Bridge] ground. It was almost like a skating rink. So it would have been too much of a risk for the players to play on there, especially in the early phase of the tournament,” he added.

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