Fielding has begun to have a great deal of say in the IPL as it heads into its business end. The Kolkata Knight Riders have been made to look way below par by their butter-fingered fielders. Chennai skipper MS Dhoni has publicly criticised his tardy fielders. Mumbai, despite having the services of Jonty Rhodes, have wilted at critical stages.
As matches are being decided on the final balls and the margin of runs is little, the result is often decided by fielding.
The margin of error in this IPL has been very little. Just imagine if Rohit Sharma, on Sunday, hadn’t got out in the final over, the task of 4 runs from 4 balls should have been easy against the Kings XI. Or Mumbai Indians’ tail conceding critical run outs in the final over against Rajathan Royals to end up losing by just two runs. Or that final over of Mashrafe Mortaza when 21 runs couldn’t be defended.
The thing to remember in this format is you need to have safe hands in the outfield. Outfielders are more important than those in the inner circle as they can prevent those big hits. More catches happen in the outfield in Twenty20. A look at the top catchers in this IPL points towards it. AB de Villiers tops the list with 12 catches and Herschelle Gibbs is second with eight to his name. Often, the two can been seen patrolling the outfield. Among the Indians, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina have been outstanding.
So while we name and rejoice at the proud owners of orange and purple caps for batting and bowling, the efforts in the field will deserve similar recognition. It has made a telling difference to the fates of the IPL teams.