By Kaushik Kumar
New Delhi: With the likes of skipper Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in the team, the current Indian squad is undoubtedly one of the best fielding units in the game. The story was not the same a decade back and the transformation from a below-par fielding outfit to becoming one of the best in the business started in the early 2000s.
It was Yuvraj Singh — a retired cricketer after Monday — and Mohammad Kaif who with their electrifying catches and fielding efforts changed the course of many matches and also started the fielding revolution under skipper Sourav Ganguly. While Yuvraj, will mostly be remembered for his six sixes in an over in the 2007 T20 World Cup and his heroics during the 2011 50-over World Cup, it cannot be denied that Yuvraj also changed the course of matches with his fielding efforts.
IANS takes a look at some instances when the southpaw’s fielding turned the games in India’s favour:
1. India vs South Africa, Champions Trophy, 2002
India took on South Africa in the first semi-final of the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy in Colombo and the then skipper Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat first. The Indians set the Proteas a formidable 261 run-target. In reply, the South Africans looked to be running away with the match as their score stood at 192/1 at one stage. Herschelle Gibbs’ 116 and Jacques Kallis’ 97 left the Proteas 68 runs away with 71 balls still to be bowled. Not to forget the 9 wickets in the bag for the Proteas. However, as Gibbs had to retire hurt, Jonty Rhodes came in and mistimed a sweep off Harbhajan Singh. Yuvraj ran in at short fine-leg and took a one handed stunner to cut short his stay.
Post the catch, the entire match took a turn as South Africa then lost wickets at regular intervals to finish their innings at 251 for 6.
2. India vs Bangladesh, 2004
In an ODI against Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2004, batting first India put 245/8. It was the game where M.S. Dhoni also made his ODI debut. Meanwhile, chasing the target, Bangladesh were off to a flying start as opener, Mohammad Rafique was smashing Irfan Pathan. After hitting a six in that over against Pathan, Rafique tried to hit him over backward point, but an outstading Yuvraj was right there and the one-haded catch applied brakes on the opener’s knock as the Men in Blue went on to clinch the issue by 11 runs.
3. India vs Australia, ICC KnockOut Trophy, 2000
In the first quarter-final against Australia in Nairobi in the ICC KnockOut trophy in 2000, India had scored an impressive 265 for 9, courtesy Yuvraj’s 84.
But apart from his contribution with the bat, it was also his superb catch which made the difference. Australia’s Ian Harvey, who was batting at no. 3, tried to gather some quick runs and hit a lofted drive off Venkatesh Prasad. However, Yuvraj, who was fielding at cover, flew in the air to take an outstanding catch. The catch once again changed the outcome of the match as the Kangaroos fell short by 20 runs.
(Kaushik Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])