On a cloudy day in Edgbaston, there were two familiar sights as the highly-awaited five-match Test series during India’s tour of England kicked-off. One, Team India couldn’t clean up the tail cheaply despite cleaning up the top-order fairly early. Secondly, the Indian cordon behind the stumps has already dropped two easy catches.
The opening day of the first Test was dominated by the news of Cheteshwar Pujara‘s exclusion at the time of the toss. But by the sixth over, Ajinkya Rahane highlighted a bigger issue as he leaped in front of skipper Virat Kohli at third slip when Keaton Jennings edged Ishant Sharma outside the off stump. He grassed the ball and Jennings went on to score 30-odd by lunch-time.
A dismal stat flashed mid-game on SonyESPN highlighting India’s awful catching track record. It was Kohli & Co’s 120th dropped catch in the slips in 49 overall Tests since the 2013 South Africa tour. A total of 47 have been off seem bowling, which doesn’t bode well for the English summer.
Among all Test-playing nations, their 67% success rate is only better than Bangladesh, who have been the worst catching side since January 2015.
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 1, 2018
To further compound these problems, India’s best Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha has been ruled out for 6-8 months after requiring surgery on his injured shoulder. In 32 Tests, Saha has grabbed 75 catches and effect 10 stumpings.
His absence was especially rued by Indian fans in the last over of the day as replacement Dinesh Karthik dropped what can be considered a regulation catch by his Bengal counterpart’s standards. The Indian travelling party though also comprises 20-year-old wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who could be an exciting batting prospect, but his glovework could well be called upon further in the series.
All said and done, the telling tale for Indian fielding was that by the end of the first day, none of the nine wickets that fell involved an outfielder. And as much a memory of Ravi Shastri’s on mic voice this old adage might invoke, catches do win matches.