Former Test captain Sunil Gavaskar has hit out at the Indian team for their poor fielding performance, after they dropped four catches on Day 1 of the first Test against New Zealand at Auckland. At the close of play, New Zealand finished strongly at 329 for four with centuries by captain Brendon McCullum (143 not out) and Kane Williamson (113), who added 221 runs for the fourth wicket after the hosts were reduced to 30 for three.
Gavaskar pointed out the weak link in the Indian fielding department after looking at their performance on Day one. "In cricket, there is a great element of luck that can turn the fortunes around. But I think along with that has also got to be the effort. I think the Indian catching effort was not up to international standard today," Gavaskar told NDTV. (Match Scorecard | Highlights | Pics)
Gavaskar, however, said that it was too early to judge whether it was the worst performance by an Indian side because the team's bowlers had typically always struggled in foreign conditions even after striking early. "I don't think it is the worst performance by an Indian team. In fact, if you have a look at Indian cricket history - right from the first Test match in 1932 when India had England reeling at four or five wickets down for something like 90. India was not able to take the remaining five wickets. I think that has been the situation for years now," said the former captain. (Read: Ishant, Zaheer were threatening on Day 1: Kane Williamson)
While backing veteran Zaheer Khan, the former Indian captain saw positives in how Ishant Sharma had come back into form and said that the bowler responded well to pressure. Ishant also became the 11th Indian to take 150 Test wickets when he removed opener Hamish Rutherford. Ishant finished the day with two wickets for 62 from his 21 overs, while Zaheer also chipped in with two scalps. (Also read: Nothing wrong with my bowling, says Ishant)
"It wasn't Zaheer Khan's day today. He tried all the tricks in his array to try and get the opposition out but it wasn't his day.
"I think it's a good sign that Ishant Sharma responded very well to the pressure. He started off with a wicket in his first over and then kept troubling the Kiwi batsmen. He would have had a few more of them if the Indian fielding and catching had been good," Gavaskar added. (Click here for latest on India's tour of New Zealand)
Gavaskar had also spoken in detail about how the New Zealand bowlers will be targeting Cheteshwar Pujara in this two-match Test series, in his column on Thursday. "Cheteshwar Pujara will be the wicket New Zealand will want, as they know that once he gets going, his target is a big hundred," Gavaskar added.
He said later today that India had the ability to turn things around with their superior batting if they managed to take early wickets on Day 2.