England made most of a flat batting track at Southampton on Sunday. The hosts dominated the opening day of the third Test and scored 247/2 - helped by a fumblingÂ Indian slip cordon. Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar feels the dropped catch of Alastair Cook cost the fielding side dearly at the Rose Bowl. (Day 1 Highlights | Scorecard)
Cook was on 15 when he was spilled by Ravindra Jadeja at third slip off debutant Pankaj Singh's bowling. The England skipper went on to score 95. While the Indian fielding has been generally high quality this series, the decision to have Ravindra Jadeja in the slips left Gavaskar confused.
"Unless we know why Murali Viajy and Virat Kohli are not standing in the slips, we will keep making these mistakes. They are our best catchers and they are not in the slip cordon," he told NDTV after the day's play. "I don't know the reasons they were not there but it is not helping the team." (MS Dhoni Reprimanded by ICC for Ravindra Jadeja Protest)
Gavaskar, however, said he did not feel Jadeja was a poor fielder but that he could be better used in other positions rather than in the slips. "He (Jadeja) is a brilliant fielder. If he is in the outfield, he can surely save a lot of runs. Because of his agility, that's the best place for him," he said. "In the slip cordon, Jadeja will take catches but he is better use to the team if he is at cover or in the outfield."
Selecting player positions in the field though is not the only flaw that Gavaskar noticed in the Indian side on Sunday. "I feel the positioning of the men behind the wicket was also not quite right. I saw from the commentary box today that the slip fielders were encroaching upon each other's territory. They are so close to each other that one feels the other is going to go for the catch. I think they need to look into it."
For most of the day, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continued to keep the slip cordon crowded but he will need to ensure that the rare chance is taken by his fielders, especially on a track that has a lot to offer the batsmen.