Gravity defying, heart-stopping: Best catches of this IPL so far
NEW DELHI: Cricket’s most competitive T20 league in the world — the Indian Premier League never fails to surprise its fans. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, over the years, the IPL has produced innumerable breathtaking performances.
The batters and bowlers have often been in the spotlight as the game is largely dominated by these two aspects, but time and again the tournament has also seen some exceptional, heart-stopping fielding efforts from the players which have proved just how crucial this third aspect of the game also is.
With the ever-improving fielding and fitness standards of the players, the competition has witnessed some jaw-dropping maneuvers on the field once again this season.
TimesofIndia.com here takes a look at some of the best grabs in the competition so far this season:
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals vs Punjab Kings)
Jos Buttler can do no wrong this season! With the bat, the Englishman has been on a different level altogether and the confidence of being the top run-scorer of the tournament by a mile and a half has reflected on his fielding prowess also. He is a wicket-keeper, but with captain Sanju Samson taking care of keeping duties, Buttler has not been donning the gloves for Rajasthan Royals.
And that has given him the opportunity to be a real live wire on the field, throwing himself at the ball all the time. One such instance of Buttler’s fielding brilliance was on display against the Punjab Kings in Match 52 of the ongoing season, when he pulled off a one-handed blinder. It was the final over of the Powerplay and Punjab Kings opener Shikhar Dhawan was looking to make the most of the fielding restrictions, with Royals’ spinner R Ashwin bowling the over.
As Dhawan tried to chip Ashwin’s first ball over the infield, Butter, stationed at mid-on, plucked a sensational catch out of thin air. As the ball was going over his head, Buttler moved back, stretched to his full capacity and grabbed the ball out of nowhere. He then rolled over, landed on his shoulders to perfectly cushion the grab. The acrobatic manoeuvre from Buttler received instant praise from the commentators and the fans across social media.
Even a stunned Dhawan enjoyed the high quality catch from Buttler with a smile. Rajasthan eventually went on to win that match by 6 wickets.
Mukesh Choudhary (Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore)
In the absence of Deepak Chahar, Mukesh Choudhary has emerged as the pace spearhead for Chennai Super Kings this season. Mukesh’s wicket-taking abilities with the new ball have impressed quite a few, but his on-field gaffes have landed him in quite a lot of trouble as well.
Dropping the simplest of chances is something that has haunted Mukesh quite a bit this season so far. But in the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, the 25-year-old somewhat redeemed himself as he took a superb running catch to dismiss Rajat Patidar.
The miraculous attempt from Mukesh came in the 16th over when Rajat was looking to up the ante for his side in the death overs. It was a length ball from Dwaine Pretorius from around the wicket which Rajat tried to hit across but only got elevation in the shot and not the distance. Mukesh, who was stationed at deep square-leg, ran in almost 15-20 metres, lunged forward and grabbed a stunner with both hands.
Even though Mukesh landed hard on his elbows, he still managed to hold on to the ball with perfection. The effort from Mukesh was of course praised by his teammates and the commentators. Chennai though went on to lose that match by 13 runs.
Devdutt Padikkal (Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals)
Devdutt Padikkal might have had a hot and cold season with the bat so far but the 21-year old has been exceptional on the field for the Rajasthan Royals. Be it at the fence or in the inner circle, Padikkal has been a live wire on the field, throwing himself at everything that has come in his arc.
And one of his fielding marvels was on display against Delhi Capitals in Match 34 when he took a skier to get rid of opposition skipper Rishabh Pant. Off just the previous delivery before this, Rishabh was given a lifeline as Yuzvendra Chahal made a mess of his catch, coming in from the fine-leg fence. But off the very next delivery, Rishabh once again gave an opportunity to the Royals and this time Padikkal grabbed it with precision and perfection.
As Rishabh again tried to play a Prasidh Krishna delivery across, he got a top edge and the ball went miles up into the night sky. Padikkal, who was at backward point, called for the catch early even though keeper Sanju Samson was also zeroing in. The ball was up in the air for a long long time and when it came down, Padikkal was underneath it.
For a moment, Padikkal did misjudge the trajectory as the ball came down but then lunged forward and grabbed it with both hands. With fist bumps and smiles all round, Rajsthan celebrated Rishabh’s dismissal courtesy a superb take from Padikkal. Rajasthan won that match by 15 runs.
Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings)
Ishan Kishan the wicketkeeper has consistently evolved and improved over the last couple of years. Currently one of the safest hands in the country, Ishan gave a fascinating example of his ever-improving skills behind the stumps when he pulled off a screamer against Chennai Super Kings in Match 33.
It was the 13th over of Chennai’s chase when left-arm pacer Daniel Sams bowled a back of length angled-in delivery from over-the-wicket to Shivam Dube. With the ball coming in, Ishan moved naturally to his right but as Shivam played the ball awkwardly and edged it, it went in the other direction. Ishan for a moment was wrongfooted but then quickly realised the change in trajectory of the ball.
As his reflexes kicked it, he threw himself in the air in another direction and grabbed the ball with both hands to complete a stunner, taking everyone by surprise including himself. Mumbai eventually went on to lose that match by 3 wickets.
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Delhi Capitals)
Arguably still one of the best fielders in world cricket, Virat Kohli in a match against Delhi Capitals this season once again showed why he is at the very summit when it comes to on-field athleticism and agility. Kohli might be having one his worst seasons with the bat currently, but that has certainly not affected his fielding skills.
Reaping the benefits of hours of training and workout, Kohli continues to be one of the sharpest fielders around. And in the match against Delhi, Kohli pulled off a one-handed screamer to dismiss opposition skipper Rishabh Pant that eventually turned out to be one of the decisive factors in Bangalore’s eventual 16 run win.
With 48 needed off 21 balls and Rishabh (34 off 17) throwing the kitchen sink at everything, Mohammed Siraj bowled a wide full toss outside off. As Rishabh tried to mercilessly belt the ball out of the park, he mistimed it but it looked as if it would comfortably clear Kohli, stationed at extra-cover.
But Kohli had other plans as he stretched to his full capacity and plucked the ball out of thin air with one hand. A huge roar from the crowd followed the catch as Rishabh and everyone watching were left stunned.
Ambati Rayudu (Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore)
A one-handed ripper from Chennai Super Kings’ Ambati Rayudu against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Match 22 will go down as one of the finest catches in the history of the competition. At 36, veteran Rayudu defied age and gravity and produced a miraculous effort that forced everyone watching the game to jump out of their seats.
The catch was taken in the 16th over of the RCB chase when Akash Deep pressed forward to gently push a Ravindra Jadeja delivery. Undone by the extra bounce, the ball lobbed up in the air as soon as it hit Akash’s bat. Rayudu, who at that time was positioned at short extra-cover, went air-borne to his right, went parallel to the ground and took a stunning, yet safe catch. Grabbing the ball with just three fingers, Rayudu landed on his elbow but still managed to hold on to the ball.
Kuldeep Yadav (Delhi Capitals vs Kolkata Knight Riders)
Two years on the sidelines. Rejected, dejected and low on confidence, but Kuldeep Yadav is on an unbelievable journey of currently showcasing one of the strongest comebacks ever in the IPL. The 27-year-old pulled off a sensational catch off his own bowling in Match 19 against his former team – the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The catch was taken in the 16th over of KKR’s chase when Umesh Yadav tried to slog a tossed-up googly from Kuldeep. As Umesh failed to connect and got a top edge, the ball shot straight up. Realising the fact that there was no fieler in the inner circle on the on-side, Kuldeep took on the task of taking the catch himself. Soon after completing his follow-through, Kuldeep ran straight to mid-wicket, judged the trajectory of the falling ball to perfection and completed a terrific catch lunging forward.
Kuldeep’s reaction said it all after the catch as the commentators and the fans found it hard to believe what they had seen wrist-spinner produce off his own bowling. As an elated Kuldeep celebrated with fist pumps and cries of jubilation, his teammates gathered around him to congratulate him on his superhuman effort.
Rahul Tripathi (Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Gujarat Titans)
“Are you kidding me? I want an action replay already,” shouted a stunned Danny Morrison in the comm box as Rahul Tripathi took a blinder right at the start of Match 21 between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Gujarat Titans. The catch was taken in the third over when Titans’ Shubman Gill over crunched a loose length ball outside off from Bhuvneshwar Kumar through the covers.
It would have been a sure shot boundary, but for the flying Tripathi. Rahul, who was stationed inside the circle at covers, went air-borne, dived to his left and completed a stunner mid-air. As he put both his arms up in celebration, Rahul’s effort was followed by a huge roar from the crowd and stunned expressions of excitement by the commentators on-air.
Shubman Gill (Gujarat Titans vs Lucknow Super Giants)
As far as fielding efforts are concerned, Gujarat Titans’ Shubman Gill set the IPL 2022 edition on fire with his unbelievable fielding effort right at the beginning of the competition. Gill grabbed a heart-stopping catch during his franchise’s first ever match in the IPL.
Playing against their fellow IPL debutants, the Lucknow Super Giants, the Titans got off to a terrific start in the competition, courtesy a fiery opening burst from Mohammed Shami. But things got even better for the team as Gill clinched an almost impossible catch, lifting his team’s morale to newer heights. As Varun Aaron tested LSG’s Evin Lewis with a bouncer, the left-hander went for an expansive pull shot but failed to middle it.
As the ball went high up in the air, Gill, who was stationed at mid-wicket, started to run back. Covering close to 20 yards while keeping his eyes on the ball, Gill took the catch over his shoulders and cushioned it, landing on his forearms and then rolling over. The Titans eventually went on to win that match by 5 wickets.
Liam Livingstone (Punjab Kings vs Chennai Super Kings)
Big-money player Liam Livingstone, who was bought by Punjab Kings in the last auction for a whopping INR 11.50 crore had one of his best nights in the IPL ever in the 11th match of the season against Chennai Super Kings. After cracking a power-packed 30-ball 60, Livingstone also grabbed a couple of wickets, almost single-handedly guiding his side to a comprehensive 54-run victory against the defending champions.
And he also had a great catch to his name in that game. While defending the total of 180, Livingstone in his second over, produced a stunning effort to dismiss CSK all-rounder Dwayne Bravo for a first-ball duck. As Bravo tried to defend the last ball of the over from Livingstone, he unintentionally pushed the ball too hard.
Livingstone, showing terrific reflexes, dived to his left and grabbed a stupendous one handed catch off his own bowling, stunning everyone around. Livingstone, not surprisingly, went on to grab the Player of the Match award in that clash for his 3 dimensional efforts.