Virat Kohli handed Australian batter Steve Smith a massive reprieve on the first ball of the 16th over, when the Australian was batting on six. On a quickish ball from Axar Patel, the former Australian captain went for a drive but instead edged the ball. Kohli, standing in at first slip, couldn’t latch on to it. It was a chance that could prove to be decisive to the fortune of the match. Smith was batting on 19 at lunch, helping Australia stabilise themselves ay 76/2 after they lost two early wickets.
Similarly, in the second session as Peter Handscomb edged one off Jadeja, it deflected off KS Bharat and flew quickly. This time Kohli reacted late, prompting Waugh to note that the former India captain had got his stance wrong once again. “Your legs have to be lot closer to be able to move quickly” Waugh would go on to say.
Former Australian cricketer Mark Waugh, sitting in the commentary box, was at hand to offer his insights into what Kohli had done wrong.
“Kohli was very high-up in his position. Should have stayed down a bit,” he offered. “He should have done a little bit better. Almost as if he wasn’t expecting it.”
Virat Kohli dropped catch of Smith#ViratKohli #SteveSmith pic.twitter.com/PCIh2SGbzk
— Nitin Varshney (@NitinVa90573455) February 9, 2023
As replays showed, the former India captain’s top body was more erect and high-up while his hands were above his knees — a position that makes it difficult to react quickly to a sharp chance.
As experts say, when standing in the slips, it’s easier to go up to adjust to a high catch rather than lunging down to snap one up.
Last year, India’s former fielding coach R Sridhar had given an insight into Kohli’s work in the slip cordon, who he called one of India’s best slip fielders.
“Virat Kohli has gone on to become one of India’s better slip fielders purely with practice. He was not a very good slip fielder initially because he was too energetic — he was a bundle of energy. That is Kohli. Not that he is not energetic now. He is still very much there but he is able to know when to be calm and he has channelled his energy better. But I am telling you it’s practice.”