“You have just dropped the world cup mate”- That’s what Steve Waugh said when he was dropped by Herschelle Gibbs during the 1999 world cup. That drop really proved significant for Australia as they won that match and qualified for the semis before lifting the world cup trophy.
So that’s how catches bring magnanimous turning points in cricket matches. Exceptionally high class catches can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat while poor drops can backfire. In today’s generation of high class batting, especially in T20 circuit, fielding becomes an integral part of the game. A moment of great effort in the field can spur the spirits of the fielding team as it lifts a team’s morale which can also bring the momentum back, while a moment of foolishness in the field leads to the decline in the team’s morale, especially that of the bowler.
IPL has also provided us with moments of great catches and fielding. From Pollard’s one handed brilliance to Lynn’s acrobatic perfection, many such efforts will be in our memory. Fielders like Ashish Nehra too have stamped an authority in the department of fielding with their comic attempts to take catches.
However, in this tournament, there are some game changers not only because of their batting class or bowling accuracy, but also because of their exceptional fielding skills. Thus, I would like to draw out the top 5 fielders in this present edition of the Indian Premier League.
Steve Smith: – The Australian has played a huge role for Rajasthan Royals in winning matches after matches. He is known for showing great temperament while batting but his fielding has easily overshadowed the former. Normally fielding in the long on and long off region, Smith has been perfectly guarding the fence because of which he becomes a vital part in the death overs when batsmen tend to clear the fence. It will be no wrong if we call him “The Watchful Protector of the Boundary Lines!”
Ajinkya Rahane: – He is the Yuvraj Singh (obviously of the older days) of the present generation. Rahane is a sharp fielder when inside the 30 yard circle and a brilliant catcher when near the boundary ropes. The youngster has one of the most accurate arms as batsmen tend to think twice before running when the ball is stopped by him- don’t forget the crucial run-outs which he inflicted in South Africa. Even near the boundary ropes he has taken some great catches. Sometimes, batsmen and even the commentators think that a six is on the cards but suddenly a fielder jumps to perfection and takes a close to impossible catch. Only Ajinkya Rahane has this sort of calibre in the field!
AB de Villiers: – These two phrases usually tell how great a fielder is AB de Villiers;
“If you have played a shot and AB de Villiers fails to stop the ball to reach the fence, you have played one of the greatest shots of your life!”
“Don’t dare to take a second when AB has the ball!”
So, that’s AB. He has one of the safest hands in cricket. What doubles his importance is the speed with which he runs. You can place him anywhere and he will do your job. He restricts two’s to one’s and one’s to dots as these runs become valuable in the context of games, especially T20. RCB are blessed with having AB in their side as he is not only a great sensation with the willow, but also same as lightning in the field.
FAF du Plessis: – FAF has been an important part of the CSK team, not because of his batting but because of his exceptional fielding. Amidst the strong batting line up that CSK has, the South African seldom comes to bat. But he has proved to be a vital cog for Chennai Super Kings with his brilliant fielding stints. He is at the second position in taking most no. of catches, behind Steven Smith, which clearly tells how much effort he gives in the field. He also has one of the safest hands and has many times covered a lot of ground to take exceptionally well judged catches which depicts his sheer brilliance in the fielding department.
Suryakumar Yadav: – Surya has become one of the rising stars in this edition of IPL. Playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, he has always contributed with the bat giving handy runs towards the end but for some reason KKR is not being able to win consistently. However, one more positive of Yadav is that he is very sharp when comes to fielding. He has already taken some breathtaking catches and has been one positive out of the many negatives for KKR. So beware of the “Pocket Sized Dynamo” as the IPL progresses further!
Everybody has different opinions and this was mine. There are many others like Suresh Raina and Kieron Pollard, but to my mind the above five came first as they have performed consistently and are of a great value for their team.