I woke up this Sunday very determined. The previous day had been really bad while playing cricket. It was the worst thing that happens to someone on a cricket field – dropping catches. It is quite easy to get over a duck or an over where you get thrashed for 20 odd, but dropping a catch should be the most embarrassing and it keeps hurting for each run that batsman scores. I had dropped not one but two. One was at cover – the ball hit hard slightly to my right . I stuck my hand out . I got it in the middle but it popped out. The second one was a dolly at mid-off . The sort of pace and loop that people use to throw the ball to the umpire. I still can’t quite figure out how it came out. I consider myself a safe catcher and this was completely unacceptable to me.

When I hit the ground again, I took close to 20 very high ones during practice. Only one did I miss. And many more fast flat ones. I told myself, “Let that ball come anywhere within 20 metres of me. The batsman’s a gonner.”

The first match started and we batted first. It was 15 overs per side. I got a hit for the last two and managed 4 runs of the 3 balls I got. It didn’t bother me much, it was the fielding I was looking forward to.

I was fielding once again at mid-off and not much action in the first 10 overs. In the eleventh over the batsman tried to hoick one over long-on, slightly miscued it and it started to come straight towards me. In fact, as I realized mid-way it looked like it would sail over me. I turned around sideways and kept running for what seemed like a minute to me, with images of Kapil’s famous catch off Richards flashing inside my head. I was within two steps of the mound which we were using to mark the boundary when the ball hit my cupped hands. It came out slightly, but I managed to hold on. Ah! Redemption at last! I have taken a tough catch that is often missed by international pros. I turned right, threw the ball over my back and started running around the boundary pumping my fist Brett Lee style.

Just then I realized that no one else was celebrating. And I heard a big yell from the bowler. “It’s a no-ball, you fool. Throw the ball in. They have already run three”.

“Now, where did that ball go ?”

(Based on an old hearsay cricket story).


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