The standard of fielding has gone up immensely in the last couple of decades. So has the quality of catches being taken. In the last few years, many fielders have perfected the art of taking catches close to the boundary and letting the ball go before the momentum takes them over the line.
Such catches have been seen a lot in the last decade. But which catch is the best among them? There are many contenders. But recently, a video went viral on social media showing a clip from a T20 match played in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the premier domestic tournament in the country for the shortest format of the game.
This video shows Ruturaj Gaikwad of Maharashtra taking a skier at deep long-on in a most spectacular manner. Interestingly, it's not Gaikwad who is officially credited with the catch but the man who finished it – Vishal Gite.
This match was played on March 12, 2019 in Indore. This magnificent take came on the last ball of the game. Railways, chasing a target of 178 needed 22 off it. Manjeet Singh was on strike and the bowler was Divyang Himganekar.
Manjeet hoisted the ball high up in the air and it seemed as if it would clear the long-on boundary. But then, Gaikwad jumped over the line and, while having his feet up in the air, took the catch one-handed. However, he was on the wrong side of the boundary line when his right hand grabbed the ball. So, Ruturaj, before his foot landed on the other side, released the ball and chucked it towards Gite standing nearby who completed the catch.
Even the way he released the ball was amazing. Gaikwad flicked the ball behind his back towards his teammate. The umpires decided to seek the help of TV umpire and he, after looking at the video which clearly showed that the Maharasthra player had let the ball go before his feet touched the ground, gave the batsman out.
In the past, many players have taken a running catch close to the boundary and have thrown the ball in the air before coming back from the other side to take it. We have also seen catches being taken and transferred to another player in tournaments like IPL. But in this instance, the catch was taken while the fielder was airborne and in that condition, he also released the ball from an awkward position.
Many people on social media are describing this as the 'best catch ever.' Whether that is the case or not, we can't say for sure. But one thing is certain, this take from Gaikwad is getting the attention which it richly deserves.