The burly Rishabh Pant not only needs to be more athletic in the outfield but also improve his throwing technique, observed fielding coach R Sridhar after his few lapses during the World Cup game against Bangladesh.
Sridhar admitted that as far as fielding in the outfield is concerned, Pant is still a work in progress.
“A lot of work has to go into him (Pant). First of all, he needs to improve his technique in throwing and also needs to be a little more athletic to be an outfielder,” Sridhar said at the mixed zone after India posted a 28-run win over Bangladesh here on Tuesday to make it to the World Cup semifinals.
“We have to use him in appropriate (fielding) positions, that is what Virat and MS are keen on. Keep him at right places at the right time. In the last game (vs England), he saved at least five runs which is a huge bonus. He took a catch as well,” the former first-class cricketer said.
As per Sridhar’s assessment, veteran Dinesh Karthik is a better outfielder compared to the young turk.
“Obviously, Dinesh despite being a wicketkeeper is a good outfielder. He pulls off some good saves at backward point. Rishabh is developing and he needs to do this a bit more to develop the awareness, to get a hang of it. That’s why we harp about getting fielders in same positions so that they get an idea.”
In a ground like Edgbaston, which isn’t exactly spherical in shape, knowledge of angles becomes important, Sridhar said.
“This is all about awareness just like you saw in the last game against England. This ground is a bit like Eden Gardens. Once you are beaten, there’s no way that you can chase it. There is no point running around towards the boundary line.”
He then spoke about the solution in such uniquely shaped grounds.
“You have to cut the angles. We are used to playing in such grounds and we will have to be aware of that. You will always not get grounds of spherical shape so awareness becomes key,” Sridhar added.
The fielding coach also gave details about how Indian players are encouraged to throw one bounce into the pitches adjacent to the match strip in order to scuff the leather off cherry, which will then help the slow bowlers.
“We don’t have any equipment to measure the pace of the throw from the outfield. But we ensure that the throw is nice and hard.
“The reason being that once the ball stops swinging, we want to use the practice pitches to bash (scuff) it up a little bit so that the spinners can get some help,” he said.
Sridhar also spoke about “banker bowler” Jasprit Bumrah who took 4/55 in India’s win against Bangladesh.
“Bumrah is a banker bowler so when he bowls, the dressing room is always very calm. Because we know he executes and the batsmen will have to do something very special to get runs against him. We are very calm and we know he is going to deliver,” Sridhar said.
“When he fell (while fielding earlier in the innings) we kept our fingers crossed but it was not his knee or his shoulder so it was not serious. He came up towards the physio and then the physio came to us and said he was alright so we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. He came back, the champion that he is.”
Bumrah, playing in his first World Cup, is desperate to remain in the team and not be rested but, having just played two games in three days and with India boasting such strength in depth, Sridhar admits the two-time winners may well rotate.
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav missed out against Bangladesh, while Ravi Jadeja is yet to feature in a starting XI in the competition.
“We will take a call after a couple of days. We have a travel day and then we will see how his body goes. It is always hard to play two games in three days, especially against two very good teams,” he said.
“We will take a look and then see how it goes. A break at this stage is a very good thing in my opinion because the players are able to take their time. We get time to reflect.”
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