Melbourne: Coach Darren Lehmann has said Australia's poor fielding played a critical role in his team's failure to win the third Test, and suspects it to be a confidence issue.
India lost six second-innings wickets but hung on to draw the third Test despite in a spot of bother chasing a 384-run target on the fifth and final day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here Tuesday.
India's cause was helped by Australia's sloppy fielding throughout their two innings. They dropped regulation chances and missed easy run-outs, all of which contributed to the final result.
“Shoddy. At best,” said coach Lehmann Wednesday on their fielding after the match.
“We've done a lot of work and I can't complain about the work ethic from the lads. But the big ones that cost us were probably in the first innings to be honest. I think we dropped Kohli on 88 and Rahane on 71 and they obviously made 140 and 160."
Lehmann said that the dropped chances would have certainly altered the outcome of the match.
“And that probably cost us dearly in the backend of the game I think. Would it have changed the result if you'd taken those catches? Catches win matches. It's pretty simple,” he said.
Lehmann was confident that the problem had nothing to do with the amount of fielding training the squad had been doing, instead suggesting it was a mental thing.
“It's certainly not a volume or practice (thing. “They're pretty good at that. It's probably more confidence)," he said.
“So the volume and all that isn't an issue, it's actually the confidence of the players in having the ability to take those chances. We missed a couple of run outs that we probably should have taken as well. I've been really pleased with the work ethic."
Lehmann also said that the catching form of players in practice has been brilliant but they needed to produce it in matches.
"We made a conscious effort in the United Arab Emirates and then after that series that we had to work harder on it and they've been excellent with it. They're catching brilliantly in practice so it's probably just more confidence."
Lehmann defended former Test batsman Greg Blewett, who has replaced Mike Young as the fielding coach this year.
“He's done a really good job. Michael said it really well on TV the other day; he's worked the boys as hard as he's seen anyone work them before," he concluded.