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A catch that typified India team's character

Suryakumar Yadav's catch literally won the World Cup for India.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 15:26 IST

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Barbados: Nine seconds. That’s the time it took for West Indies to lose the 1983 World Cup. 

Of course, that’s a bit of a stretch because the game itself went on for hours, but those seconds between Sir Vivian Richards’ top-edge-pull off Madan Lal and Kapil Dev’s sweaty but safe hands defined Indian cricket for generations to come. 

“That is the kind of catch you take a lot in practice but to replicate, under that kind of pressure in a World Cup final, against the best batter in the opposition team, and the ball goes up in the air…. You can have second thoughts about going for it, but that wasn’t the essence of Kapil Dev, Kapil Dev would go for it. That’s incredible in itself because he went for it and had the skill and the ability to not only chase it down but also get his hands behind it and catch it. The catch that typified Kapil Dev in some way, you know, going after something and having the skill to execute it.”

This is what Rahul Dravid, then a player, said in an interview when talking about the greatest catch in World Cup history - a catch he had heard on the radio, one he had seen on television repeatedly, one which he and everyone from his generation would talk about for years to come. 

Dravid, now a coach, watched a worthy successor born. This time from about 200 yards away. 

Standing at the dugout, clenching his jaws and pacing to and fro, Dravid saw that India needed to defend 16 runs from 6 balls to claim their first ICC title in 11 years. The problem, though, was that South Africa had David Miller at the crease. 

The left-hander has a way of finding the roof on bad days so this chase was still on despite South Africa having mucked it up for five overs. 

Dravid’s heart must have sunk when Hardik Pandya bowled a full toss in the first ball. Miller’s hit looked like it was headed for the sight screen.

The way most press boxes in the world are built, you can’t quite see what’s happening near the sight screen facing the batter because you’re right on top of it. But, at that moment, considering the parabola of the ball, it looked like a six. 

Looking at the ground, you sensed it wasn’t so because 10 Indians, two South Africans, and two umpires on the field were all staring at a point in space. 

What they were witnessing was the second coming. What they saw was Suryakumar Yadav stop chewing gum for a split second, pull off a miracle, and revert to chewing it as if he hadn’t just walked on water.

Suryakumar sprinted to his left in pursuit of a catch he wasn’t sure he could complete. He went at it nonetheless and realised he could get both his hands to it so stuck them out and felt the ball sit in his palms. But, he had momentum dragging him over the ropes, which at this point was about a millimetre away from his left boot. 

So, he - casually, mind you - flipped the ball into the field of play, hopped over the ropes, hopped back in with his eyes wide and a smile already. He knew he was going to complete the catch. He did.

Of course, the officials had to make sure he hadn’t touched the rope so played the catch on repeat on the giant screen. Boy, it looked better in slow motion.

Miller was gone. India would become champions a few minutes later. Rohit Sharma would have a ‘don’t-know-what-to-say’ smile when asked about ‘The Catch’ in the post-match press conference.  

“I was standing at long off so I could clearly see Surya there and he is very calm under pressure. He has got brilliant hands. The moment he took that catch; I knew that he was inside. I was very calm. I mean, you could see I was celebrating already. But still, until the scoreboard says out, it's not out yet. But I knew that it was an out. And I started already thinking about the other five balls that we have to bowl to the other batters,” said Rohit. 

When asked if Surya’s catch could be compared to Dev’s, Rohit said: “If it was so good in 1983, then keep it there. It was a great catch. This is also our catch. In hindsight, if you look at it, every moment that happens, it has its own charm, own way. So, I don't like to compare it.”

He’s right, we shouldn’t because one catch changed India and the other changed our minds about India. This is the new era, this is the new brand of Indian cricket, it’s real and it’s here for us to see. 

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Published 01 July 2024, 15:26 IST

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