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“Virat Kohli could literally intimidate the batters; Rohit Sharma is a natural, we call him sticky fingers”

Former Team India fielding coach R Sridhar has talked about Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma‘s attitude and prowess in the art of fielding and slip-catching.

Speaking in an interview with The Economic Times on Sunday, R Sridhar revealed that Virat Kohli used to “literally intimidate the batters” with his intensity while fielding in short cover and short mid-wicket. He said due to the Test captain’s selection-consistency in the format, he was transformed into a slip fielder.

R Sridhar added that Virat Kohli was working on his focus and concentration to be one of the best in the position for India. He explained:

“They (Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma) are, indeed [India’s best slip fielders]. But let me say they are two very different kind of athletes. Virat is extremely fit and agile and was always a very good outfielder. Initially, we used his energy in front of the batsman’s eyes, say like in short cover or short mid-wicket because with his intensity he could literally intimidate the batters. But over time, and this was also because he was a certainty in the team, we wanted him to stand in the slips… He can come down really quick and has done a lot of work on his concentration and focus. Now you can see him go for the half chances and pluck them more often than not.”

R Sridhar added that Rohit Sharma, unlike Virat Kohli, has always been a “natural” slip fielder, good enough to be named “sticky fingers” in the dressing room.

He said:

“Rohit, on the other hand, is a natural (slip fielder). We call him sticky fingers in the dressing room. At the same time, he works very hard on his slip catching and takes around 60 to 80 catches during each session to improve his slip catching.”

R Sridhar was part of India’s coaching set-up for five years since 2016. Some fumbles here and there aside, his stint saw India iron out their weaknesses and become a fitter and more agile fielding side.

“I asked him for 6-8 months and changed the way I coached Rishabh Pant” – R Sridhar

R Sridhar also talked about young wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant. His development from a “batter who can keep wickets” to a dependable man behind the stumps was arguably the biggest success of the fielding coach’s tenure.

R Sridhar said the direction needed to improve Pant’s skills came from head coach Ravi Shastri. He also revealed how coaching the youngster involved “giving him options” and said:

“I remember Ravi (Shastri) bhai asking me if I could help Rishabh become a keeper for Indian conditions. This is because Ravi bhai wanted to use Rishabh the batter in India. I asked him for 6-8 months time and changed the way I coached Rishabh. I started giving him options, for Rishabh is a very different character. Once you give him options, he loves them and says “mujhe options diya karo aur mein select kar lunga (give me options and I will choose)”.”

R Sridhar concluded by unveiling his poignant message to Pant about hard work and consistency while leaving the Indian dressing room for the last time. He said:

“Over time we became very close. When I left the dressing room for the last time, I told him to keep working hard because with a wicket-keeper no one cares when you are doing well but if you miss a chance the whole country starts talking and all of a sudden you start to feel the pressure. Rishabh is a much better wicket-keeper now and will serve the Indian team for years if he keeps working hard and focusses on his fitness.”

Both Pant and Rohit Sharma are currently on a break from international cricket and won’t feature in the ongoing India-New Zealand Test series. Virat Kohli, meanwhile, will be back for the second Test in Mumbai, starting on December 3.





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