Test catch No 200 takes The Wall to another peak

Test catch No 200 takes The Wall to another peak

Pouching a record

Test catch No 200 takes The Wall to another peak

Even in isolation, it was an extraordinary catch at his favoured position at first slip; what made it even more special was that it made the Bangalorean the first man to take 200 catches in Test cricket.

It was befitting that catch number 200 wasn’t a dolly that looped into his big hands. Even as Harbhajan Singh caught Dale Steyn’s outside edge, Dravid was unsighted by the right pad of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But once he saw the ball whizzing to his left, the 37-year-old flew to his left, put out his taped left hand and wrapped his fingers around the cherry. Sensational stuff!

Dravid set off on a celebratory run, exchanging high-fives before running into Harbhajan’s arms.  The off-spinner, off whose bowling Dravid has taken an astonishing 50 catches now, lifted his former captain in the air in appreciation of his efforts, largely at slip, over the last several years, even as the team converged on the man of the moment in an extended bout of celebration. The most catches Dravid has taken off any one bowler is 55, off City-mate great friend Anil Kumble’s bowling.

Dravid was out of the slips after injuring his right hand while dropping a hard offering from Jesse Ryder in the Ahmedabad Test in early November. In that three-Test series against the Kiwis, his lone catch, a smart effort to his left at cover to dismiss Daniel Vettori in Hyderabad, took him to number 199.

No catches came his way either in the final Test in Nagpur or in the first Test of this series in Centurion. Indeed, between the 199th and the 200th, India’s bowlers had sent down a massive 1,752 deliveries without putting the world’s most prolific catcher in business!

Interestingly enough, Dravid’s world record-breaking 182nd catch too had come off Harbhajan’s bowling, against New Zealand at Wellington in March 2009. That catch, in his 134th game, had taken him past Mark Waugh’s previous record of 181 catches in 128 Tests.

“Taking catches has given me probably as much pleasure as scoring runs has; it’s about being part of someone else’s success as a catcher,” is how Dravid has always viewed his catching record.

Match evenly poised

The second Test between India and South Africa was evenly poised, with the visitors ending the second day at 92 for four at Durban on Monday.

India have an overall lead of 166. They had bowled out South Africa for 131 in their first innings.