Gautam grabs six to equal Naidu record

CM Gautam answered his critics with a an impressive display of ’keeping on day one of Karnataka’s Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match against Odisha at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.

The 26-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has done exceedingly well for Karnataka with the bat but his credentials behind the wickets have often come under scrutiny.

On Saturday, Gautam grabbed six catches, equalling his predecessor Thilak Naidu’s record for the highest number of dismissals by a ’keeper in an innings. The former Karnataka ’keeper had taken five catches and effected one stumping in the match against Andhra in Mysore in 2008. This, however, is the first instance of a ’keeper taking six catches for Karnataka.

“Last year my keeping was disappointing,” admitted Gautam, who was completely unaware of his feat. “This year, I worked with JAK (J Arun Kumar) a lot and I have improved my agility and technique.”

Gautam was often scrutinised for being slow on his feet and weak on clamping down when the deliveries went wide off him. The ’keeper, however, showed none of those signs on the day. “I saw videos from the last couple of seasons. My movement wasn’t up to the mark. I have been working hard on my movements. The idea is to watch the ball, stay low, and shuffle on your feet,” explained Gautam.

So improved were Gautam’s side movements that he was able to pouch three catches, diving to his right, one of which looked almost improbable until he stood up with the ball perched safely in his right glove.

“In the practice, I have been catching without a first slip in place so I just went for it. Also, the ball was dipping,” said Gautam when asked if he hesitated to go after an edge from Lagnajit Samal as Robin Uthappa was stationed close at first slip to pull off that remarkable catch.

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