London: India have played eighteen Tests since the retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. In the ensuing period, they have discovered some fine young batsmen, but are yet to find fielders who can man the slip-cordon with equal authority.

Ravindra Jadeja fails to stop a ball
Ravindra Jadeja fails to stop a ball in the slips on Day Two of the Lord's Test yesterday. Pic:AP/PTI.

At Lord’s yesterday, the Indian bowlers produced one of their most disciplined bowling performances in recent times, but they were clearly left searching for some safe pairs of hands.

An expensive miss
Gary Ballance, the man India let off early in the innings, went on to score a fine ton. The ball flew between the wicketkeeper and first slip, but in theory Dhoni ought to have attempted the catch.

In the 18 games, Dhoni has had four different men standing beside him. Pujara, Ashwin, Kohli and Vijay have all had their stints next to their captain, but for some reason or the other they vacated the spot for Dhawan.
Kohli, Rohit, Vijay and now Rahane have stood at second slip, and it's not surprising that their inconsistency has cost India dearly.

A major problem facing India is that their players have rarely fielded in the slip cordon. The likes of Jadeja, Rahane and Kohli are fantastic fielders largely due to their athleticism but are not natural catchers in the slips.

Rahane has been fielding at gully right through his career for Mumbai and Pujara’s knees prohibit him from constant squatting. Vijay was seen as a natural slip fielder but a couple of blunders in South Africa have resulted in him been shunted out. It is an area that needs to be addressed quickly lest India end up paying a heavy price.