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India's fielding has improved more than 100%: Biju George

Biju George rates Veda Krishnamurthy as the most natural fielder.
Biju George rates Veda Krishnamurthy as the most natural fielder. © Getty
When Jemimah Rodrigues plucked a catch out of thin air close to the boundary line in the final T20I against South Africa, thankfully the match was televised. Thus the world got to know how far the Indian women's team has come up as a fielding unit. After their double series win over the hosts, India's T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur had this to say: "Our fielding, in which over the last two-three years we were lacking, has improved and that was the biggest takeaway from the tour."
For every leaping catch, diving stop and sliding save made by the Indian women, a lot of credit should go to the fielding coach Biju George from Kerala, who has been with the team from the start of the 2017 World Cup in England. "The improvement, I would say, is more than 100%. The players are spending one hour of every training session on fielding. Naturally, the differences are there to see," Biju, back in his hometown in Thiruvananthapuram, told TOI.
Biju, a SAI coach on a two-year deputation with the BCCI, is ever alert to the stats and their importance in coaching. "Globally, including men's cricket, on average 1.1 catches are being dropped per game. But if you look at the ODI and T20 series against South Africa, in seven completed matches, we dropped only five. So we have managed to stay way below the global mark for one full series," said Biju, a BCCI level-3 certified coach who has specialized in fielding.
The 53-year-old coach says that the players now welcome the ball coming to them regardless of how hard it is hit. "Earlier, some of the players were a bit hesitant when a powerful shot came towards them. But now all of them want the ball to come to them and are not worried about how fast it is coming," said Biju who coached Sanju Samson in his formative years.
The drills for women are no different from that of men and according to the coach, the players are getting there in terms of athleticism. "Some were not comfortable diving on the field. There is a technique to dive properly and I taught them using a reverse chain mechanism with each step of diving deconstructed from the last. The players understood if I can do this in my 50s, they can easily do it in their age," said Biju.
Among the present lot, Biju rates Veda Krishnamurthy as the most natural fielder and Deepti Sharma as the best when it comes to throwing though it is one area he believes the team could get much better.
All the coaching comes to fruition only because of the dedication of the women, believes Biju. "Even after a long journey, the players never miss their training and it is seniors like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami who show the way with their work ethic. The professionalism of head coach Tushar Arothe also guides them."

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