The main draw of the World T20 hasn’t even begun, and the ‘minnows’ have already produced some scintillating cricket.
In a bid to qualify, these teams have batted, bowled and fielded like there was no tomorrow. There have been some stunning efforts on the field which re-establishes the fact that athleticism has revolutionised the game.
Here’s a look at some of the gravity-defying moments on the field during the qualifiers:
Zeeshan Maqsood: the next Jonty Rhodes
Oman were playing Ireland in their first match of Group A and it is here that Zeeshan Maqsood pulled off a Jonty Rhodes.
Ireland opener Paul Stirling, batting on 29, played a rapturous cover drive off the bowling of left-arm spinner Aamir Kaleem and the ball would have easily raced away to the fence but for the one-handed intervention of Maqsood.
The Oman opener, fielding at short cover, flung himself in the air and brilliantly caught the uppish drive with his left hand.
The best part of the effort was that Maqsood didn’t allow the ball to pop out of his grasp when his elbow hit the ground after the completion of the catch. When he fell on the ground, umpires suspected the ball dropped from his hand but as replays showed, it was firmly held.
Pieter Seelaar: a cricketer or a diver?
It takes a splendid effort to dismiss a hitter like Kevin O’Brien for a duck. Chasing 60 in 6 overs, Ireland had made a brisk start and were 28 for 1 after two overs. O’Brien pulled Paul van Meekeren’s second delivery.
O’Brien’s pull was middled, but the shot that might have broken the run chase (had it gone for six Ireland would have been 34 for 1 after 14 balls) was instead the harbinger of Ireland’s growing despondency. Pieter Seelaar ran to his left from deep midwicket, put in a dive and plucked it out just before the ball was about to land, just inside the boundary rope.
Michael Leask’s juggling act
Catches at boundary ropes have a different level of difficulty. A tall guy can hang on to a catch while a short one cannot.
This was true when Michael Leask caught Zimbabwe’s Richmond Mutumbami at the long-off boundary in Nagpur. Mutumbani, batting on 19, went after a flighted Mark Watt delivery. The ball seemed to be heading straight towards Leask who was positioned at the long-off boundary.
Leask tried to catch the ball with his fingers pointing upwards, but the ball popped out of his hands. However, the off-spinner kept his calm and swooped/bent down and caught the ball in his second attempt.
The real Sikandar
Sikandar Raza, the middle order Zimbabwean batsman, found it hard to connect the ball with the bat, but more than made up with his exceptional fielding.
Scotland had begun their chase of 148 and Zimbabwe needed some early wickets. Tendai Chahtara had come on to bowl the fourth over and the first ball was driven by Kyle Coetzer.
It went in the air and Raza, fielding at short cover, dived to his right. He caught the ball one-handed and ended the innings for Coetzer and Zimbabwe picked their fourth Scotland wicket in the fourth over.
Special mention: The art of saving a six, gracefully
As Ireland took on Oman, Amir Ali was batting on 25 and Oman needed 22 off the last 2.3 overs. Kevin O’Brien made the mistake of bowling a short delivery to Ali.
Ali latched onto the opportunity and pulled the ball towards the mid-wicket boundary where Gary Wilson took a step back, leapt in the air, grabbed the ball and threw it back before falling over the rope, all this before the batsmen had completed a single.
Oman went on to win the match, but Wilson’s acrobatic leap is one for the books.