India vs Australia 2017, 1st ODI: Glenn Maxwell's astonishing catch is SK Play of the Day
Among the ramifications of cricket's evolution in the modern era has been the prevalence of sustained excellence in the field. There are very few in the contemporary game who can match the fielding exploits of Glenn Maxwell. The 28-year old was once again in the thick of things during the opening ODI between India and Australia at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Maxwell left everyone in the arena in a state of utter disbelief by completing a sensational one-handed catch to dismiss the in-form Virat Kohli in the sixth over of the Indian innings. Right from the Victorian's game awareness to the timing of his jump, everything about the grab exemplified perfection on the field.
Upon winning the toss on an unusually hard surface, India decided to break away from their preferred trend by opting to bat first. Despite the absence of pace spearhead Mitchell Starc and the relentlessly consistent Josh Hazlewood, the visitors had enough firepower in their armoury to exploit the extra bounce on offer.
Even as Pat Cummins made the ball zip through to the wicket-keeper, Nathan Coulter-Nile generated significant movement under the overcast skies. India's opening combination of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane struggled to counter the probing spell from both ends.
Rahane was the first to depart as an away going delivery from Coulter-Nile managed to extract the outside edge. Cummins could have had Rohit's scalp in the very next over of the innings. However, Australian skipper Steven Smith failed to cling to a rapid opportunity. At the end of the first five overs, India were tottering at 11/1.
Maxwell to the fore
Watch Maxwell's jaw-dropping catch here (Courtesy: Indian Cricket Team Facebook)
The home team's situation worsened considerably at the start of the sixth over when Coulter-Nile coerced Kohli to chase a wide half-volley. The Indian captain's timing was way off the mark and the bat face closed too soon. As a result, the leading edge flew towards backward point. The bowler's extra pace and Kohli's manic wrist work ensured that the ball was sent flying towards the fielder.
But Maxwell was up to the task. Timing his leap to the precise moment, he stuck out his right hand in the hope of snaring the ball. Even though he was aided by a hint of serendipity, the live wire managed to cling on to the chance. He completed the scarcely believable catch by adding a theatrical landing to the proceedings.
While Coulter-Nile was overjoyed with the wicket, Kohli could hardly believe his dismissal and walked off with a wry smile on his face. While Harsha Bhogle reckoned that the Australian fielders had given one of the customary two wickets to the team's cause, his co-commentator Sunil Gavaskar admired Maxwell's adroit jump and flawless balance.
Coulter-Nile followed up Kohli's wicket by accounting for Manish Pandey in the same over to leave India reeling at 16/3. Unlike the run-fest inducing highways recently found in limited-overs matches on Indian soil, this was a type of surface wherein run-making could be a consternation. If the first ODI indeed comes to a game of scrap, then Maxwell's brilliance in the field might just prove to be one of those key moments. If not, it is likely to remain as the catch of the season at least.