FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL, Dubai

April 29, 2014

Starc's crazy catches

Nandakumar Ganesh


Mitchell Starc takes the first of two amazing catches, Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2014, Dubai, April 28, 2014
Mitchell Starc: Air Bud © BCCI
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Choice of game
I was back at the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium in anticipation of a run fest, given the match featured Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Virender Sehwag. Not only was the Bangalore batting a fiasco, they could also not find a silver lining in their seam-heavy bowling attack to take through to their next game.

It was going to be the King's XI Punjab's match for the taking. They looked like they were gunning for it too - with some really cool fielding drills laid out by Sanjay Bangar. Although I had a sliver of expectation that RCB would fire from all cannons, I knew somehow Punjab would grab it in the end.

Key performer
Have we found a new swing-and-seam sensation in Sandeep Sharma? He bolstered Punjab's bowling with the scalps of Gayle, Kohli and Parthiv Patel. They fell to his inswingers within a space of five runs, though I have to say Kohli was a tad unlucky with his lbw decision.

But I pick Rishi Dhawan as the key performer for his all-round contribution. He ended Yuvraj Singh and de Villiers' 41-run partnership and also saved a faltering top-order batting with a 22-ball 23 that took Punjab over the line.

Wow moment
Now you can add Mitchell Starc's name to the growing list of Australians who keep pouching gravity-defying, stunt-like and boundary-rope catches in this IPL season. Wriddhiman Saha looked incredibly itchy at the crease and picked Varun Aaron's leg-stump delivery off his thighs. It never looked like getting pocketed, but Starc leaped a few inches above the ropes and did it! The cheerleaders behind him were seen gasping in utter disbelief. Aaron was thanking the seven heavens and a diving Starc again for holding onto another stunner, this time Maxwell. They are such geniuses in fielding, I tell you!

The Australians and Indians have a very rich history in sledging. In preserving the tradition, there was a Starc-Sehwag moment that got the crowd excited when Sehwag dead-batted a 145kph ball from the towering Aussie in his third over. They glared and mouthed a few swear words, but in the end it looked like Sehwag swatted him away like a fly.

Shot of the day
Miller belted three consecutive fours off Albie Morkel - all through the leg side. My favourite was the punch off the pads toward midwicket that bisected two fielders in half. Bangalore put on a valiant effort on the field, but they had too small a total to play with.

Banner of the day
The "Keep Calm" IPL advertisements clearly got to one of the spectators who carried a poster that said: "I am a Punjabi and we don't keep calm".

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Nandakumar Ganesh, an engineer at Bose Corporation, is a sucker for creative writing, cricket and craziness. In a half-hearted attempt to embark on a cricketing journey, he started playing at his university and is now a local club cricketer. When he's not batting at No. 3, he writes on social responsibility, karma and self-deprecation.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Posted by   on (April 30, 2014, 10:48 GMT)

Nandu, good one. I was there, very close to Starc's catches, the catches were stunning.

Posted by IndTheBest on (April 29, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

I couldn't stop smiling by reading about the poster. True spirit of the sports and support to the team. It would have been much better if IPL committee had made a rule to include at least 2 local boys in the playing 11 so cheering for Sandeep Sharma and Yuvraj in the team of Punjab along with your poster would be more inspiring.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

Hey Kunal... Honestly.. that was the best ever poster I have seen...

Posted by   on (April 29, 2014, 6:26 GMT)

Hi Kunal, I remember in the last few over you got crazy and started putting up the banner for every ball...! Hope you liked my article.

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