Since the turn of the millennium, India have produced quite a few standout fielders. With the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif spearheading a revolution of sorts, the flame that had been lit was passed on to the subsequent generation. Among the current set of Indian players, Ravindra Jadeja is undoubtedly the most versatile fielder across all formats.
While his place in the limited-overs teams may have been usurped by the more attacking wrist-spin, Jadeja remains one of the front-line options for India in Test cricket. In this segment, let us relive five of the best fielding efforts by the all-rounder in his international career thus far.
#5 Against Pakistan, 2017 Champions Trophy (Edgbaston)
In what was one of the most keenly watched tussles between India and Pakistan during recent times, the Group B clash at Edgbaston attracted a packed stadium. After opting to bowl first on a placid track, Sarfraz Ahmed's team were run ragged by the Indian top-order. Chasing a D/L revised target of 289 runs from 41 overs, Pakistan were tottering at 91/3 when Shoaib Malik arrived at the crease.
The experienced Malik made his intentions quite clear by hammering two boundaries and a six in no time. His innings was cut short by a moment of magic from Jadeja. When the veteran right-hander set off for a risky single, he swooped in at backward point and unleashed a rapid throw to rattle the stumps. Despite being at an awkward angle, his direct hit found its target and caught a rebounding Malik well short of his crease.
(Video Courtesy: ICC)
#4 Against Australia, 2016 T20I series (Melbourne)
Armed with a 1-0 lead, a rejuvenated Indian team arrived at the MCG for the second encounter of the three-match T20I series against Australia at the start of 2016. Batting first, they rode on dazzling knocks from their reliable top-order trio of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli to post a formidable total of 184. The hosts seemed to be cruising towards the target until a top-order collapse hamstrung their chances.
Batting at number five, Shane Watson looked to revive Australia's fortunes. When he drilled a powerful aerial straight drive, the all-rounder could be forgiven for thinking about a boundary. But, Jadeja stuck out both hands and managed to pull the ball from thin air. Even though the reaction time was very less, the nonchalant ease with which he completed the return catch left the right-hander in bewilderment.
#3 Against New Zealand, 2014 Test series (Auckland)
From a perilous position of 3/30, the then New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum joined hands with his eventual successor Kane Williamson to resuscitate his team's innings during the opening Test against India at Auckland in the 2014 series. McCullum's 307-ball 224 helped the Blackcaps breach the 500-run mark. He was the last man out in the first innings, courtesy of a Jadeja special at the deep.
McCullum cleared his front leg and hammered a back of length ball from Ishant Sharma. Positioned at long-on, Jadeja grabbed the catch before realising that his inertia was going to carry him past the boundary rope. Showing great awareness, he tossed the ball up with his left hand. Upon returning from beyond the fence, he duly completed one of the best catches around the rope in the traditional format.
#2 Against New Zealand, 2014 Test series (Auckland)
In the same Auckland Test, Jadeja was at it again. This time around, it was New Zealand's second innings wherein he displayed his remarkable fielding prowess. Having conceded a massive first innings lead of 301 runs, India needed something special to get back into the contest. Mohammed Shami removed both openers to set the tone. But the omnipresent threat of the consistent Kane Williamson loomed large.
The technically compact right-hander attempted to manoeuvre a back of length delivery from Zaheer Khan towards the leg-side. However, Jadeja was placed precisely for such a catching opportunity. Diving inward to his right, he closed both his hands around the ball and completed a scarcely believable catch to send Williamson on his way back.
#1 Against Australia, 2009 ODI series (Mohali)
Having made his debut earlier in the year, the seven-match ODI series against the visiting Australian side in 2009 shaped up as an important assignment in the then fledgling career of the promising all-rounder. With a 2-1 lead, India entered the fourth ODI at Mohali in palpable confidence. After the early wicket of Shaun Marsh, skipper Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson set about building a strong platform.
Batting on 51, Ponting placed a delivery from Harbhajan Singh into the vacant leg-side region and attempted a second run. Unlike his usual self, he did not run hard between the wickets. Unbeknownst to him, Jadeja steamed in like a hare from deep square leg and unfurled a bullet throw. The direct hit cannoned onto the stumps long before Ponting could make his crease.