The Indian cricket team's fielding was below-par during the five-wicket defeat against South Africa in the fourth ODI but fielding coach R Sridhar expects his players to be more cautious as cross-winds in the port city during the penultimate match could make catching difficult. Port Elizabeth is known as the windy city, as it sits right on the coast of Nelson Mandela Bay. Although clouds are expected to clear on Tuesday, there is high possibility of wind playing a factor.
"Definitely, we will take that into consideration. That is something that is important, especially for high balls. You have to keep that into account as it comes under your awareness. No matter where you are fielding on the boundary line, you need to be aware which way the wind is blowing," Sridhar said during the pre-match press conference.
The Indian fielding has been generally poor on the tour so far and Sridhar had to admit that Virat Kohli's men were way off the mark during the fourth ODI.
We were a little below par on the field in the last game. One catch went down, Shreyas Iyer being the brilliant fielder that he is, made a great attempt. It was not a Grade 1 catch, but it's easy to be harsh on ourselves sometimes and easy to be harsh on our players. It's the easiest thing to do. But if you see, that was a difficult catch, Sridhar said.
Sridhar reasoned that at Johannesburg, the ball zigzags (snaking) a lot, which was a reason for misfielding.
At Johannesburg, the ball snakes a lot and that is what happened to Kuldeep (Yadav). He was trying to attack and save two runs but the ball just snaked away more than he expected. These things happen but we are practising for them. We have got our players to pay attention to the detail of every minute aspect of every skill, not just fielding," he added.
He also added that conditions played a major factor in the Pink ODI defeat at Johannesburg.
"Look, when the overs get reduced, then definitely the skill levels between two teams also gets reduced. In terms of the situation, we had in the last game after the delays, that is something which is good that is happening to us in our build up to the World Cup," he said.
When asked where the current ODI team ranks in terms of out-fielding, the coach replied, "If I am talking about the one-day side, definitely there is more athleticism to be seen on the ground. It's on view. If you see even the last three-four series, right from the Champions Trophy, in West Indies, against Australia and Sri Lanka, the athleticism on the ground has been good. We have been saving more runs than we have been giving away."
The idea is to reduce the number of bad days compared to good days.
"The other important positive in this team is, more often than not, the difference between the good days and bad days is very less. We are not flash one day and really bad on another day, like some of the other teams. We try and reduce the gap between our good days and bad days."
The Indian team had an optional training session before the game. MS Dhoni, Manish Pandey, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel were the ones that came for practice.
(With PTI inputs)