“Given, how India have been one of the best fielding sides off late, it will be difficult for Iyer to keep his place in the team in the future if he does not work on his fielding”.

Catches win matches – one of the oldest cliches of cricket. It is not just a cliche in the game, it is a strong belief. Whenever a catch is dropped, the viewers in dismay, mourn those three words.

When the same player repeats the same mistake a few more times, the cricket enthusiast tend to lose their patience. Sometimes, they could be extremely ruthless with their words irrespective of who the player is under the radar. Twenty-three-year-old Shreyas Iyer, who entered the international arena only last year, was on the receiving end of their anger for the same reason. In two ODIs against South Africa, Iyer has spilled three easy catches, out of which one even cost India the match.

After India went 3-0 up in the six-ODI series, they locked horns with South Africa in the pink ODI in Johannesburg. Prior to the game, the hosts had never lost an ODI in the pink jersey and Iyer’s nerves helped the Proteas stand by their record. India, batting first, posted a total of 289 runs in 50 overs. After rain’s interruption, the target was revised to 202 runs in 28 overs, according to the D/L method. South Africa openers Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla took South Africa to a fine start before Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah broke the 43-run stand. A couple of quick wickets saw David Miller walk in at 77 for 3. The middle-order batsmen had been out of form and with Indian spinners troubling the Proteas, it was a litmus test for Miller to finish the game for South Africa.

He reverse swept Kuldeep Yadav for a boundary behind the square. That was followed with three dot balls to Yuzvendra Chahal and Hardik Pandya. At 17.3 overs, when Miller was on mere five runs, Chahal bowled a flat delivery, Miller once again looking to sweep, got an edge that flew behind the square, where Iyer was positioned. For no apparent reason, Iyer dived to his right but the ball bounced off his wrists. Miller went on stitch a game-turning stand of 72 runs with Heinrich Klaasen for the fifth wicket. Although eventually Miller was dismissed for 39 runs, he scored them in just 28 balls and his crucial knock was inclusive of four boundaries and two sixes.

Miller played a vital role in South Africa’s victory in the fourth ODI and with the win, the hosts kept the series alive. In order to deny India their maiden series win in South Africa, the Proteas had to win the final two games. Courtesy of the manner in which they triumphed in the pink jersey game, two back-to-backs were not impossible, after all.

After being put to bat first in the fifth ODI, the Indian team were restricted to 274 runs in 50 overs. In South Africa’s chase, when their skipper Markram was on just nine runs, Iyer dropped him in the sixth over. Jasprit Bumrah was the bowler, who delivered the ball outside off, Markram came forward to drive it but an edge went directly at a good height to Iyer, who went reverse cup and shelled it. Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s expressions were no good sign for the young cricketer. That was a dolly which Iyer made a mess out of and such mistakes would surely not help him keep his place in the Indian team. The 23-year-old was not comfortable with the bat as well earlier in the innings.

Iyer went after every ball bowled to him and at one point, MS Dhoni had to talk to him in between. With the look of it, Dhoni probably would have explained to Iyer that they were in a good position and he must choose his shots smartly. However, a few balls later Iyer had thrown away his wicket for just 30 runs off 37 balls.

The failure with the bat probably was already disturbing him and all that led to the mis-fielding he ended up in the second innings. In the 25th over, when Amla was all set with the bat, Chahal tricked him with an inside-out loft to which Amla misjudged and sliced it towards deep-cover. Iyer covered a good ground, dived forward but fell short. It was a great effort from the Mumbai cricketer but it only added to his infamous list of dropped catches in the recent times.

Ever since Iyer has made his India debut last year, he has been a bit shaky on the field. He made his first appearance for India during their home series against New Zealand in 2017. In the first T20I, Iyer did not get to bat or bowl and was decent on the field. However, the second game which India lost had a direct connection with the 23-year-old Iyer. He dropped Colin Munro when the New Zealander was on 41 runs. Munro had already taken 15 runs from Axar Patel’s over and slowly he was becoming a threat to India. Patel bowled one outside off, Munro in an attempt to muscle it over mid-wicket smashed it flat and down to long-on, where Iyer was standing.

Iyer had it under control, pushed his hands up but only to palm it over the roped for a six and New Zealand earned 21 runs off that over. Munro went on to remain unbeaten on 109 off just 58 balls and India and eventually which cost India the match. Thankfully, India managed to win the final match and seal the series 2-1.

Not just international cricket, Iyer despite being a brilliant fielder, he has had buttery hands even during domestic cricket. In Mumbai’s crucial Syed Mushtaq Super League fixture against Punjab, Iyer dropped Yuvraj Singh’s catch, who eventually turned out to be one of the driving forces behind Punjab’s successful chase of 199 runs in 20 overs. Out of the four matches in Super League, that tournament, Iyer played just one and a blunder like this from him hurt his team in the result.


Kohli had earlier said that India’s eleven best fielders will take the park every time they get out to playing, leading up to the World Cup 2019. Considering how a catch or a dropped catch can change the tone of a game, such repeated mistakes will not be accepted by any team. Given, how India have been one of the best fielding sides off late, it will be difficult for Iyer to keep his place in the team in the future if he does not work on his fielding.

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