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Australia’s fielding errors a focus issue

Marnus Labuschagne says sharper focus, rather than increased training time or fresh techniques, is the key to Australia improving their shoddy fielding in the upcoming third Test against India.

The hosts dropped seven catches in an uncharacteristically poor display in the second Test, with Labuschagne conceding concentration was an issue after he put down two chances and was one of the main culprits.

Steve Smith and Travis Head both gave lifelines to man-of-the-match Ajinkya Rahane as he ground out a gritty century in the first innings to help steer India to a convincing eight-wicket victory at the MCG.

The result means the teams will head to Sydney with the Border-Gavaskar series on a knife’s edge at one-all, with two matches to play.

Both teams have been operating under strict protocols in biosecure bubbles that have severely limited their freedom of movement in order to play during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic this summer.

But Labuschagne said Australia are still training as normal despite the restrictions, which he said could not be blamed for the sloppy performance in the field.

“Our training time hasn’t changed at all,” Labuschagne said.

“We’re training a lot, we’re working hard on it (fielding) and I think maybe it’s just a concentration or focus thing, but it’s definitely not a work ethic thing.

“All our fielders are working really hard on their exact position … and I certainly don’t think COVID’s had an impact on the amount of training we’re getting in there.”

Labuschagne said the Australian side has more than enough fielding support from assistant coach Andrew McDonald, who oversees that area, with help from head coach Justin Langer, bowling coach Troy Cooley and spin coach Sridharan Sriram.

“You’d hope by the time you’re playing for Australia that you’ve got your own technique,” Labuschagne said.

“Like your batting or bowling technique, it’s very unique to you.

“People are always going to observe certain things or give you some feedback on how you’re setting up or how you’re standing towards a certain player, to help you in making it easier to catch.

“But everyone knows how to catch, we do plenty of work on it and there’s heaps of help there if you do need it.”

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