Amongst the top in all-formats, India is now at the peak of it’s potential. The first time India ever experienced similar intensity of success was way back in 1983. The sport has evolved immensely in these 3 decades. However, cricket’s most neglected scene, FIELDING still holds the utmost importance. Fielding not only controls the run-flow but also annoys the batsman provoking him to commit mistakes. We all remember watching, hearing or reading about Kapil Dev taking a magnificent catch running backwards to dismiss Sir Viv Richards in the final, and so do we remember MS Dhoni catching Mustafizur Rahman inches of his crease during India’s famous victory over Bangladesh in 2016. Indian cricket has traversed miles between the two sprints. It was Kapil Dev who initially showcased how fielding could light up all scenarios and it was Dhoni who had guts to take bold decisions to increase the physical strength of Indian Cricket
Eknath Solkar proved key to India’s close-in fielding in 1970s. His presence made the batsmen uncertain. However, the change in approach post 1983 win caught more attention. Impetus was given to an overall development and even the domestic circuits took fielding seriously. Increasing the endurance levels, practicing sharp and accurate throws and improvising the outfield skills was given more importance. The typical thought of hiding the poor fielders was kept aloof and fielding had now started to evolve as India’s third essential.
Kapil Dev: “ Sandeep Patil was little lazy on field, hence we had to deduce a plan where the ball would never reach him. Throughout the 1983 WC, the field setup and bowling strategies was such that fielding and Sandeep were kept isolated”
Emergence of some exuberant athletes with quick reactions spurred India’s bid to success. A few, including Robin Singh, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh laid the foundation to the India we see today. India’s dream-run in 2003 WC also experienced significant fielding commitments. BCCI and the selecters too gave a nod to the proposed revolutions. “Batsman and the bowlers might have a bad day at office. But it’s the fielders who will always save you runs.” Dhoni’s then controversial decision to dismiss the slow senior players in 2008 has now proved its worth. India’s young blood is not only enthusiastic and passionate but have also acquired the apt skillset when it comes to fielding.
Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma are considered amongst world’s quickest cricketers. The quickness in the field has also stimulated the running between the wickets. Even the new recruits in Manish Pandey, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ajinkya Rahane have also mastered this department. It’s not only the players, the support staff and the coaches have also looked upon very well. R Shridhar along with Ravi Shastri have been pivotal in this recent transition. The fielding and keeping has also welcomed many new records for India.
MS Dhoni tops charts in ODI stumpings, Rahul Dravid still holds all reigns in slip catching while Indian team enjoys the leisure of lesser mis-fields. This has also helped the bowlers to be innovative and thus effective. The consequent release in pressure has also helped the cause on numerous occasions. The process which largely initiated during the 1983 World Cup now seems to complete a circle. India has went on to produce many Jonty Rhodes ever since. The fitness values are now inculcated to the ground level and every cricketer is aware about his responsibilities on field.
Fair to quote, “Fielding has restored India’s balance”.