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Hail those fielders

Smartness on the field particularly in the outfield had not been India’s strong point, but it was a revelation to see the quartet of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane saving boundaries and in the process injecting a very high sense of duty on the field.


Ajinkya Rahane stops a Mohammad Hafeez shot during the third ODI between India and Pakistan at the Ferozshah Kotla on Sunday. Pic/Pankaj Nangia

In my seven decades of watching cricket at various levels, I can confidently say that Sunday’s victory over Pakistan was by far the best ever seen. Checking with former India captain Nari Contractor, there was confirmation of the fact that his 1961-62 team to the West Indies had the best fielding outfit. He said, “I hope you have not forgotten that the Indian team was told by almost everyone that this Indian side is the best fielding side to have visited the Caribbean.”

Contractor mentioned the names of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Chandu Borde and Rusi Surti as the wall in the cover region. However, when reminded of the 1952-53 team to the West Indies, he admitted that D K Gaekwad, Chandu Gadkari, J M Ghorpade, Polly Umrigar, Vijay Manjrekar and Madhav Apte were of course even better. When one looks back further, there were Lal Singh and Gul Mohammed. 

But the first brilliant captain-fielder was Hemu Adhikari who prowled in the cover region. Of course, there were other captains like Umrigar, Pataudi (easily the best) and Mohammed Azharuddin, who always reckoned that Sunil Gavaskar’s team at the 1985 World Championship of Cricket in Australia was a splendid fielding side.

Alastair Cook’s England team will find the going tough if India can repeat its fielding exploits in the forthcoming one-day series. 

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