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T20 World Cup 2024 | Indians have a fielding day

Standing neither on the ropes nor three-fourths the way, Axar was caught in conversation until a flurry of ‘catch it’ screams came from the direction of the pitch.
Last Updated : 25 June 2024, 15:40 IST

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India fielding coach T Dilip and another member of the Indian staff were having a chat with Axar Patel from across the ropes when they noticed the spinner take a few steps forward and then a few hasty steps back. 

Little did they know then that they would bear witness to one of the great catches in cricket.

Even as the other member of the staff ducked and scurried away from the line of the ball, Dilip, on Axar’s right, stayed on, watching a scud missile destined for the region beyond the ropes. 

In that blur, Axar’s right hand came in the way of the ball’s trajectory, and Dilip’s hands went up in unison for Axar had completed the finest catch this T20 World Cup has seen. 

There are some strong contenders for the spot, but considering the angle of the strike, the power of the strike, the general degree of difficulty and the gravity of the moment, this is the one that takes the cake.

Standing neither on the ropes nor three-fourths the way, Axar was caught in conversation until a flurry of ‘catch it’ screams came from the direction of the pitch. 

Kuldeep Yadav had bowled a bad ball, it was short and Mitchell Marsh, now in fine form, absolutely bludgeoned it. He was uncertain of how Axar was placed, but he knew it would take a special effort to pull this off because of the momentum of the ball. 

Axar took his time to gauge whatever little parabola was there on that shot and took off the ground. Surely, he knew that this wouldn’t go down as a ‘drop’ so why not give it everything His timing was so precise that the ball latched onto his right palm as if addicted to it.

He came down in one fleeting motion and he was well away from the ropes at this point. He pointed skywards, looked at how far from the ropes he was, and probably thought he could have stayed back and completed an easier catch, but there was no time for nitpicking now because the whole team swarmed him.

That catch changed the dynamic of the entire game, but the Indians weren’t done. 

Hardik Pandya latched on to a second attempt off of Marcus Stoinis as if he wasn’t interested. 

Kuldeep pulled off a lovely dive at short third to end Matthew Wade’s stay. 

Jasprit Bumrah took a deceptively good catch at short third when the ball flew off the edge of Tim David’s bat. 

There was that all-important pouch from Suryakumar Yadav at first slip off David Warner’s edge too. 

Ironically, Ravindra Jadeja put down a catch at midwicket, and Rishabh Pant was having a rough time behind the stumps. They’re typically the ones hogging the spotlight when it comes to fielding so it was unusual, and it will be noted down by Dilip.

That’s the thing, this team has not relied on the happenings of prior games to think anymore or any less of themselves. They go through their fielding drills as if another day, and get the job done, as if another day. 

But days like these don’t come often because, for the first time in a long time, one could make a legitimate argument for India’s fielding winning them the game. And on a day when Australia's fielding went to pieces.  

Dilip would agree. 

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Published 25 June 2024, 15:40 IST

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