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INDIA V NEW ZEALAND ODIS 2016

Fielding key to India's success

19 October 2016

Ajinkya Rahane (left) and Virat Kohli are two of India's better fielders // Getty

Long seen as a weak link for India, they are fine-tuning their fielding to continue their domination of New Zealand in the ODIs

Having outclassed New Zealand with both bat and ball, dominant India hope to tighten the screws further on the tourists with their fielding in the remaining four one-day internationals.

India go into Thursday's second one-dayer at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi as overwhelming favourites after sweeping the Test series 3-0 and brushing the Black Caps aside by six wickets in the first one-dayer in Dharamsala.

While the batsmen and bowlers enhance their skills at the nets, India's fielding coach R. Sridhar goes about ensuring the players are athletic enough to occupy positions both close to the wicket and in the outfield.

The aim, says Sridhar, is to do away with specialists where those with quick reflexes are deployed inside the ring, while those with a good throwing arm are stationed in the outfield.

"In one-day cricket, the main challenge for any fielding team is to suffocate the batsmen and make them work really hard for their runs," the 46-year-old former first-class cricketer said.

"We are trying to develop multi-speciality fielders rather than sticking to specialist fielders. That is the aim of the team management.

"We give equal importance to fielding as you would do to any other skill and try and create multi-specialist fielders wherein the team benefits in terms of different phases of the game."

Quick Single: India spared Anderson encounter

Sridhar identified Test captain Virat Kohli, who is Mahendra Singh Dhoni's deputy in limited-overs cricket, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Manish Pandey as those who are capable of fielding anywhere in the field.

"They are really useful inside the circle," he said. "But once we get into the death overs, these guys often go out in the deep because they are very safe pair of hands and throw well."

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav stood out in the first one-dayer, where besides taking the key wickets of captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in a hostile opening spell, he dived at mid-off to hold a powerful drive from Corey Anderson.

"Umesh is fabulous," said Sridhar. "He takes his catching and fielding very seriously during practice sessions. That's probably given him the edge and set a new benchmark as far as fast bowlers are concerned."

New Zealand, meanwhile, are desperate to rectify the mistakes of previous matches and bounce back in what has been a forgettable tour so far.

Kohli anchors India to big win

In Dharamsala, the Black Caps suffered another top order meltdown that was reminiscent of the Test series to slide to 7-65 by the 19th over against a second-string Indian attack.

Only a gutsy unbeaten 79 by opener Tom Latham, who became the first New Zealander to carry is bat in a one-day innings, and Tim Southee's belligerent 55 off 45 balls batting at number 10, lifted the total to 190.

India eased past the modest target in the 34th over with the prolific Kohli returning unbeaten on 85 off 81 balls.

Matt Henry, who was rested for the first one-dayer, said the tourists wanted to turn the tide and fight back in the remaining four one-dayers.

"After the Test series, we really wanted to make a statement, but it was not to be," said Henry. "The guys are still up for it and working hard and keen to move on to the next one.

"Everyone's determined to make amends and there are areas where we can make adjustments. We'll be good and ready to go."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

About the Writer

 @diplal
@diplal

Kuldip Lal is a New Delhi-based journalist who retired last year as South Asia's sports correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP). He also wrote for the Kolkata-based Telegraph newspaper and Sportsworld magazine.

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