Emphasis on close-in catching: Dravid

Rahul Dravid
Indian head coach Rahul Dravid. File photo: AFP/ Munir Uz Zaman

Nagpur: The Indian team is focussing on fielding, especially slip catching, ahead of the opening Test against Australia beginning here on Thursday, head coach Rahul Dravid said on Sunday.

The performance of India's slip fielders has been an area of concern in the past and Dravid said the team is trying to strengthen the slip cordon during its preparatory camp here ahead of the four-match Test series.

"Everyone looks in really good shape. It's nice to get the Test team together again. We had a lot of white-ball cricket over the last month or so," Dravid said in a video posted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Twitter.

"Some of those boys, shifting from white-ball to red-ball, it's nice for them to just have that extended period in the nets. The surfaces have been really good as well," he said.

India are conducting their training sessions at the VCA Stadium in Civil Lines with the first Test scheduled at the VCA Jamtha Stadium.

"Fielding side of things as well, that has been really important as well. The close-in catching which we think is going to become a really important part of the series.

"There's a lot of emphasis and focus on close-in catching, slip fielding, things like that when you are on the road all the time and don't get time to build and work on those things."

"We have had a couple of really long sessions. I think it's really exciting as a coaching staff because you don't actually get times like this due to the amount of cricket we play," he said.

"You don't get time actually to do a camp or you can get an extended period of time where you get to work with players and build up towards the Test series.

"Just to be able to get this week has been really exciting for us and we, as coaching staff, have been planning and preparing for this for almost a month or so on what we will do in these four-five days. I'm glad it has all come together really well."

Apart from the Nagpur Test, Australia and India, currently ranked No.1 and 2 respectively in both the ICC men's Test Team Rankings and the ongoing World Test Championship cycle, will also play in New Delhi (February 17-21), Dharamsala (March 1-5) and Ahmedabad (March 9-13).

"Even though this is a short one by my standards, I like to have longer camps where we can work with people. But even then, we're happy to get five days or six days here in Nagpur," Dravid said.

"It's been really fruitful and the boys are looking good. Hopefully two or three days more into the Test match and then we can take it from there."

India, who first played for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia in 1996-97, have won the last three series in 2017, 2018-19 and 2020-21.

The hosts will aim to become the first team to win four consecutive Test series between the two nations.

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