If one wanted to play the devil's advocate and pick out a flaw in India's series-clinching victory in the second Test at Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), it would be the visitors' slip catching; especially that of captain Virat Kohli. However, his deputy Ajinkya Rahane has emerged as arguably India's best slip fielder.
Rahane has fixed his spot in the slip cordon and been extremely reliable in the past one year. He has been the side's most successful fielder since June 2016, taking 23 catches, which is the most for India, and a large part of them were taken in the slip cordon. He has improved by leaps and bounds and some have also compared his slip fielding to Rahul Dravid, his idol and one of India's finest in that position.
In an interaction with Rahane on BCCI.TV, batting ace Cheteshwar Pujara said that after Dravid, Rahane was India's best fielder at slips. He also asked the Mumbai batsman he developed his skills in that position.
Rahane explained that his mistakes forced him to improve.
"As a slip fielder, long back when we used to play, I dropped a lot of catches in the slip cordon. But then I realised that this is wrong, I didn't feel right that someone asked me to move from a certain position, it hurt me and I started working on that aspect," he told BCCI.TV.
He also revealed how the plans to enhance fielding skills changed when the Indian cricket team toured Sri Lanka in 2015.
"Remember when we came last time to Sri Lanka, we had a discussion with our fielding coach (R Sridhar) and I decided that I will take 100 catches every (fielding) session and I want to be one of the best fielders in the slip cordon. So I was working and still working on it because I feel wickets like these (sic)... slip catching, short leg, silly point (positions) are very crucial," Rahane added.
Rahane also threw light on his 132-run knock in the second Test that he described as one of his best against spinners, and said he was aware that the pitch could misbehave as the match progressed. So he wanted to disrupt Sri Lanka's bowlers' line and lengths and punish the bad balls.