Indian fielding was below par

We aren't in the T20 groove: Dhoni

That India are not playing too many Tests in 2010 is indeed a genuine excuse for a possible quick exit from the summit in Tests. But they will have to make huge improvements in the said areas to stay consistently ahead of their closest rivals – Australia and South Africa, especially in the shorter versions of the game.

India’s bowling was patchy for the whole of 2009 in one-dayers and T20s, relying heavily on the firepower of their batting line-up. After a rather bright beginning to the year against Sri Lanka, winning the one-day series and the lone T20 in January, Indian bowlers failed to attain consistency in the months to come.

After a hot and cold performance against New Zealand where they lost the T20s and bagged the one-day series, Indian bowlers could not make much impact in the World Twenty20 in England, and the injury-enforced absence of Zaheer Khan during the latter part of the season too made the matters tough for the Men in Blue. The colourless performance of bowlers also hampered India’s performance in the Champions Trophy and in the recent one-day series against Australia.

Rudderless boat

Without Zaheer, Indian attack resembled a rudderless boat and the absence of his experienced partner also affected Ishant Sharma, a pale shadow of that awesome paceman who put Ricky Ponting through the wringer last year.

The Delhi paceman, owner of oodles of talent, conceded far too many runs without adequate rewards in the wicket column, and his ineffectiveness blunted the edge of Indian attack, forcing skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to depend upon part-timers in search of wickets.

“We have been experiencing a roller-coster ride in the shorter formats. I don’t think we are in the groove for T20. We are using it just as a warm-up for the following one-day games where also we struggle to focus. I think that is the reason for our failures in these games this year,” Dhoni said. But they will have to find a way to produce more consistent efforts at the earliest.

Dropping sitters

The other reason for India’s inconsistent show in the shorter versions was their terrible fielding. For instance, Yuvraj Singh, normally a brilliant fielder, and Ishant dropped sitters on Wednesday and both Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan went on to score crucial runs.

Fumbles on the field were so frequent that the Lankan batsmen were able to steal singles and doubles at will, putting extra pressure on Indian bowlers. Dhoni said India will have to exert great care in this area. “We are normally a safe fielding side taking most of the catches that come our way. But it did not happen today, and hurt us badly against Lanka. Overall we need to improve vastly,” he said.

Dhoni hoped the appointment of Mike Young, the American baseball guru who has been working with Australia, as the fielding consultant might usher in some change. “Young has been successful wherever he worked. He just started the work with us and hopefully he will bring in some positives in our fielding,” he said.
Dhoni won’t be the lone person hoping so!

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