The Indian cricket team has always been known for its batting prowess and their mastery at spin bowling but has never been regarded as one of the greatest fielding units in the world of cricket.
Though we didn’t quite have the Jonty Rhodes and the Ricky Pontings, yet India has produced quite a few fielders who could turn the game on its head with their agility on the park.
Here’s a list of India’s top ten fielders, in my opinion, who scorched the greens with their fielding abilities.
10. Ajay Jadeja
Born into a family with a rich cricketing legacy, Ajay Jadeja was regarded as one of the best fielders in the Indian team during his time. Though his cricketing achievements were overshadowed by his match fixing ban, yet he remains one of the best Indian fielders.
The former Indian skipper was perhaps one of the few who were brilliant both at covers and in the slips. Apart from his stylish back flick throw, Azharuddin was quick on his feet, had fabulous anticipation and had soft hands that allowed him to pouch the absolute screamers. Though the match fixing scandal brought his career to an abrupt end, he still remains one of the safest slip catchers of his era.
8. Robin Singh
This Trinidad born Indian cricketer found his place in the Indian ODI squad after much struggle at the domestic circuit.This hard working all rounder chased the ball ferociously and had a strong and accurate arm from the outfield. He built up a patnership with Ajay Jadeja that helped India to elevate to a better fielding unit.
The new generation Jadeja, has often been criticised for his poor batting skills and lack of penetration in bowling. But one aspect of the game, he can never be faulted is his fielding. Quick across the turf, this diminutive player has made backward point his own in the absence of Yuvraj Singh.
The man who can do no wrong. Apart from his batting skills, Kohli belongs to the new breed of players who are an asset on the field. He chases the ball with aggression and has a rocket arm that often catches batsman off-guard. Whether at covers or in the outfield, this Delhi Dynamite is surely one of the finest of India.
5. MAK Pataudi
The Late Nawab Pataudi Jr. was perhaps the first man who showed the importance of fielding to the Indians. The one-eyed wonder, was regarded as the Tiger because of his fielding prowess. A swift mover, the Tiger manned the cover area with his customary panache.
4. Yuvraj Singh
The Pride of Punjab is one of the most athletic fielders in the Indian team, fielding primarily at “Jonty Corner”. The tall left hander is a masterclass in pulling off acrobatic catches and has a great eye for run outs. The recent injuries and the cancer concern had sidelined this stylish strokeplayer but the entire cricketing fraternity is looking forward to his return to backward point.
The fastest and the slimmest of the lot. Md. Kaif, along with Yuvraj Singh, redefined India’s fielding culture under the captaincy of Saurav Ganguly. This middle order batsman is well known for his agility across the turf. He had an enviable throwing accuracy as well. Though he was often found wanting with the bat, he has the world record of five catches in a World Cup match.
Perhaps the best of the modern generation fielders, Suresh Raina has to be the best thing that Greg Chappell has done for Indian cricket. This smashing left hander is the backbone of Indian fielding. Quick hands, nimble feet and excellent anticipation makes him arguably India’s best fielder and one of the best in the world. Apart from producing stunning catches, he has the knack of hitting the stumps, as well. With Kohli and Jadeja backing him, the trio is perhaps the best that India has ever seen in the field.
1. Eknath Solkar
Definitely India’s best fielder ever. The Late Eknath Solkar was the first man who took India to victory only by his fielding skills. Renowned for his outstanding close catching, his stunning pouches helped India to victory against England at The Oval in 1971, the team’s first Test win in England. His record of 53 catches in only 27 matches is the best ratio for catches per test-match among non-wicket-keepers with 20 or more Tests.