It’s the Women’s T20 World Cup final in front of the 80,000 fans at Melbourne Cricket Ground and you put down Alyssa Healy on nine. You know you dropped the Cup when Healy smashes 75 off 39 balls. That is how Shafali Verma, 16, felt on March 8. The darling of the team for her aggressive batting throughout, the dropped catch and failure to score left her inconsolable. India’s top-scorer, the opener was out for two runs. Fielding coach Subhadeep Ghosh sat her down after the match to console her.

“Sometimes an impossible catch is taken and sometimes a simple catch gets dropped. This is all part of the game,” says Ghosh. “She put her everything into that Cup—one dropped catch couldn’t have taken away what she had achieved.”

Ghosh, roped in by BCCI last October ahead of the West Indies tour, was fielding coach of Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL, and has worked with Assam and Andhra in Ranji Trophy. “The team did a fine job while fielding in Australia. The catching was superb. We had trained really hard for the tri-series and the World Cup. Harmanpreet Kaur (skipper), Radha Yadav, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy and wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia are superb fielders. I won’t say Indian women are the best in the world but they are catching up with Australia, England and New Zealand. With more exposure and camps, they can upgrade themselves. They are a talented bunch, very eager to learn,” said Ghosh, 50.

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Wicket-keeper Bhatia credits her success to Ghosh. “His inputs and feedback have helped me adapt to different wickets and conditions… During the World Cup, he along with the other support staff and captain kept us in the right state of mind and never let outside pressure get to us. I keep in touch with Joy sir (Ghosh). Even in the lockdown, I have been chalking out plans,” said the Chandigarh-based Bhatia.

India women’s team coach WV Raman and support staff have instructed players on Whatsapp what drills to do during the lockdown. “There is a difference when we compare men’s and women’s cricket in terms of skills and strength. There won’t be power-hitters or juicy bouncers every over. So, fielding can make a difference,” said Ghosh, who feels playing more matches will help India prepare for the ODI World Cup in New Zealand early next year.

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“They only got to play under lights in the last IPL. Considering that, they adjusted well on the West Indies and Australia tours. They need to play lots of matches and do camps to lift their fielding for New Zealand.”

The players are expected to get together after the long break with a training camp in August. Ghosh said: “The state associations need to work closely with their coaches and players to make them good fielders. This can really help improve fielding standards at domestic level. Young players make India debut, they can adjust to the international level easily.”

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