While India’s ground fielding has improved tremendously in recent years, slip fielding has become an increasing cause of worry. The Indians were guilty of dropping a few catches in the slips during their tour of South Africa earlier this year and the same problem has resurfaced in the ongoing Test series in England.
“Standing for six hours in slip is not easy. You have to take a minimum of 50-60 catches in a day during practice to become a good slip fielder. Slip is a specialised position. Everybody cannot stand in slips, and that is what is happening with the Indian team. We need to identify players who want to stay in the slips. They should be willing to practice hard to take catches in slips. Practice makes you perfect,” Azharuddin told reporters on the sidelines of a team launch in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL).
Since the start of 2014, India's slip catching has been very poor. Just 67% of their chances in the slips off pace bowling have caught - only Bangladesh are worse across that time-frame.— Ashish Magotra (@clutchplay) August 2, 2018
Why can't they get better? What are they doing wrong... pic.twitter.com/OMY2a2VXlP
Despite being ranked No1 in the Test format, India’s slip-fielding has been among the worst among full members in recent times. Since 2013, India’s success-rate in the slip cordon against pacers is 67 per cent which is only better than Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
England’s success-rate in the slip against pacers is not much better either at 73 per cent. The hosts saw plenty of catches go down in the slips on the second day of the Birmingham Test with Kohli being given two lifelines by Dawid Malan on his way to a maiden Test century in England.
The Pakistan pacer once again batted at No3 in the Derbyshire batting order following his knock of 42 in his side’s last clash against Yorkshire. That move paid off with Riaz slogging his way to a 31-ball 53 which included four boundaries and as many sixes.
Riaz’s pinch-hitting innings had put Derbyshire on track in their chase of Nottinghamshire’s 166-5. They looked to be cruising in the chase with Riaz and Wayne Madsen at the crease with the score at 93-2.
However, the introduction of New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi into the bowling attack changed the complexion of the match completely with the leg-spinner’s four-wicket burst derailing Derbyshire’s innings.
Sodhi had Riaz caught behind before castling Gary Wilson for a duck in the same over. He removed Madsen with his next over to trigger a middle-order collapse which Derbyshire could not recover from.
In the end, Derbyshire fell nine runs short of Nottinghamshire’s total after they could only muster 157-8 in their 20 overs.
Riaz has not featured for Pakistan across any format since his appearance in the Test against Sri Lanka in October, 2017.
Riaz had not been picked for the 25-man probables for Pakistan’s tour of Ireland and England earlier this summer. His place in the Pakistan side was called into question by head coach Mickey Arthur who had commented that the pacer had not won the side any game for over two years.
The 33-year-old has previously registered two half-centuries for Pakistan in the ODI format.
Ultimately, India will feel it was their day after they restricted England’s first-innings lead to 13 runs before Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Alastair Cook cheaply once again before stumps at Birmingham.
England are 9-1 at the close of play after India had put up 274 runs in reply to their first-innings total of 287.
Here, we look at the key talking points from an exhilarating day of Test cricket.
SAM CURRAN DESTROYS INDIA’S TOP ORDER
All eyes would have been on James Anderson and Stuart Broad when India came out to bat on Thursday morning. However, it was young Sam Curran playing in only his second Test that stole the show at Edgbaston.
India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay would have assumed that the worst was over when they saw off England’s new-ball pairing to bring up a 50-run stand. Curran though, had other ideas, as he showed England the value of having a left-armed seamer in their bowling attack.
Getting the ball to tail back in sharply into the right-hander, Curran troubled Vijay before finally trapping him plumb in front of the wicket in just his second over. Two deliveries and a streaky boundary through the slip cordon later, Curran had his second wicket of the over when KL Rahul dragged a wide delivery on to his stumps.
Soon it was three wickets in two overs for Curran when Dhawan could only edge an outswinging delivery into the hands of Dawid Malan at slip. From 50-0, India were reduced to 59-3 as Curran brought the Edgbaston crowd to its feet.
STOKES’ CENTURY OF TEST DISMISSALS
If Curran had wiped away India’s top-order, Ben Stokes was on hand to decimate the middle-order. After Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had safely negotiated their way to lunch, Stokes came out firing in the second session as he got the Duke ball to generate some prodigious movement.
His spell after lunch created mayhem immediately with Rahane struggling to get to grips with the moving ball. The India middle-order batsman perished soon enough after he stabbed at a good length delivery outside off-stump only to edge it towards Keaton Jennings at third slip.
With his next over, Stokes shattered Dinesh Karthik’s stumps with a late inswinging delivery to complete his 100th dismissal in Test cricket. That feat means that Stokes is now only the fifth Englishman to have scored over 2, 5000 runs and picked up over 100 wickets in Test cricket.
KOHLI WAGES LONE BATTLE FOR INDIA WITH GRITTY TON
After his antics on Wednesday which created quite the stir in England, Virat Kohli was always going be the centre of attention when he came out to bat on Thursday. He was straight away put to the test against his old nemesis James Anderson. The India skipper was put under the pump as the red ball moved with vigour on a pitch which had burst into life after a much sedate opening day. Edges flew past the slip cordon, twice he was dropped in the slips, but yet he managed to somehow find the grit to survive.
In the end, not only did he survive, he flourished. Dawid Malan was the guilty party on both occasions he was dropped and the England batsman will not want to look Anderson and Stokes in the eye after how the day ultimately panned out.
With a steady determination to make amends for his disappointing 2014 tour, Kohli waged a lone battle against England’s pacers and in the end single-handedly dragged them to just 13 runs short of the England total. A lead of over a 100 seemed all but a formality for England at one stage but by the time they left the field, their shoulders had dropped and the momentum had clearly swung India’s way.
With the tail for company, Kohli had played one of his greatest Test innings, if not the best. A maiden ton in England was just reward for the manner in which he had dug in despite the adverse conditions and hostile bowling. He scored 134 runs in 10 innings the last time he was in England. On Thursday alone, he had scored 149.