Virat Kohli lamented India’s average fielding after the team suffered a 66-run loss to Australia in the series opener at the SCG on Friday. India were rusty on the field, and while there weren’t too many dropped catch per say, the little error in judgments highlighted how the team was probably getting used to playing back international cricket after nine months.
In the 37th over, India had the chance to send Steve Smith back, but Shikhar Dhawan misjudged at long on and ran too far in. Three overs later, Yuzvendra Chahal nearly pulled off a stunning catch to take out Aaron Finch, but couldn’t hold on to the ball at short fine leg. Smith and Finch went on to hit centuries.
Later, in the 43rd over, Hardik Pandya got a hand to a bullet hit from Glenn Maxwell and helped parry it over the ropes and in the next over, a diving Shreyas Iyer couldn’t quite reach the ball on time as it beat him to the boundary. Besides, there was a Mayank Agarwal misfield that resulted in a four.
After the match, Kohli explained what could have been the reason behind India’s sloppy fielding. “Got enough time to prepare. Don’t think there can be any excuses,” he said. “Probably the first long game we’ve played in a while, been playing T20 cricket. Probably that’s something that can have an effect. Body language wasn’t great after around 25 overs. If you don’t take your chances against a top-quality opposition, they’ll make you pay.”
Besides fielding, Indian bowlers had an off day with the ball as Australia hammered them to put on 374/6 on the board, their highest ODI total against India. The lack of a sixth bowler was visible with Hardik Pandya still unable to bowl due to the risk it exposes his back to. India showed spark in batting with Pandya and Dhawan playing impactful knocks but managed 308/8 in reply.
“Unfortunately, Hardik is not fit enough to bowl, and we don’t have other all-round options to pick from either, someone like Stoinis or Maxwell,” Kohli pointed out.
“From the batting point of view, we had a chat briefly now. All the batsmen committed to it which is why you saw us playing with intent. I think we gave ourselves the best chance. Hardik’s innings was the best example of that. As a batting unit we committed nicely to positive cricket and we are going to do that in the future as well.”