Recently, India’s fielding coach R Sridhar was all praise for the team’s improved fielding standards, hailing Umesh Yadav as the benchmark as far as fast bowlers’ fielding is concerned. In the closing stages of the opening day of the first Test against England, he caught and bowled centurion Joe Root in a rather unconvincing fashion, starting off a debate whether the catch was a legitimate one or not.
In the 81st over of England’s innings, Joe Root drove a full delivery uppishly back to Umesh, who comfortably caught the return catch with both hands at knee height. Yet, in a bid to celebrate the big wicket, he juggled the ball off his left hand, aiming to catch it with the other hand. He ended up lobbing the ball over his head and behind him, making it seem as if he had lost control of the catch. The batsman, who had started walking off as soon as the catch was taken, stopped in his tracks to wait for a confirmation.
Although it felt in real time as if he had made a mess of the return catch, replays showed that he had actually grabbed the ball convincingly, but lost track of it while cheekily juggling it in celebration. The on-field umpires, Kumar Dharamasena and Chris Gaffaney took the matter upstairs, where the TV umpire Rod Tucker had a good look before giving the verdict in favour of the bowler. The soft signal was out.
Analysing the replays in slow motion, Tucker observed that Yadav looked in complete control as he caught the ball, smiling as he parried the ball over him while celebrating. He decided to go with the on-field umpire’s decision after having deliberations with the two.
The fielding team got the decision in their favour, but it looked rather dubious before the slow motion replays came in. The on-air commentators discussed whether the bowler was actually in control, especially because he tried catching the ball back for some reason, after throwing it beyond his reach.
According to Law 32 (mode of dismissal: caught) of the cricket rule-book, “The act of making the catch shall start from the time when a fielder when a fielder first handles the ball and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control both over the ball and over his own movement”.
Before he was dismissed, Root completed his 11th Test century, looking at ease against India’s spin battery. In the company of Moeen Ali, he stitched a 179-run partnership that helped repair the damage caused in the first session, helping the team go past 300 on the opening day.
You can watch the video of the dismissal here.