India need to get stronger and faster, says fielding coach Abhay Sharma
The Indian team warms up ahead of a match. © ICC
India fielding coach Abhay Sharma has said that the main areas of concern for the women's team are their speed and strength in the field as compared to their foreign counterparts.
Speaking to PTI, Sharma, who was part of the coaching staff for the home series against South Africa in March, stated that the visitors were "more athletic, they cover the ground quicker and they are little stronger also".
Taking the field after almost an entire year, India went down to Sune Luus-led South Africa 4-1 in the ODI series and 2-1 in the T20Is. Although they performed admirably with the bat through the course of the series, India's performance in the field - dropping several catches and making a fair few mistakes in the field - showed clear rustiness.
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"In the last series, there was a lapse in judgement in some cases, may be because they were playing after a long time. A lot depends on the frame of of mind. We will work sincerely on that front."
"What I see is that we are standing on technique, we are not standing on strength. We need to be strong on both fronts," Sharma, who previously worked with the men's Under-19 team, told PTI.
Next month, a 21-member Indian squad is headed off to England to play a Test, three ODIs and three T20Is and Sharma said there is plenty for the group to work on ahead of the series.
"Overall development is needed as far as fielding is concerned. The game is changing, you have to be more athletic. Technically, work needs to be done. What I observed is that a lot of girls are struggling with their throwing techniques. If you develop wrong technique in your early days then it troubles you with injuries. Once the technical side is taken care of, then you can build on the strength part," he said.
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"This time I will interact with more on a one to one basis rather than group and assess what they feel about the game and then try and match up to my expectations."
In addition to the work that needs to be put into the fielding, Sharma also said that he would focus on the aspect of running between the wickets, adding that if India are able to "convert those singles into twos" they will be able to put more pressure on the opposition.
Speaking about Shafali Verma, who received her maiden call ups to the Test and ODI teams, the 52-year-old said plenty of work was being done to help her improve.
"During the last series also we worked a lot on her fielding. As far as weight loss is concerned she has really worked hard but just weight loss doesn't make you a better fielder or a player."
"We are working on her fielding, things like cutting down the angles and judging the ball early. You will see a big improvement very soon. She is a very sincere girl and does whatever has been told to her," he concluded.