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IPL 2017: Ajinkya Rahane wins hearts with a gesture symbolising the spirit of cricket

The interesting incident occurred during the first qualifier between MI and RPS.

Ajinkya Rahane
Rahane produced a stunning piece of effort along the boundary rope

What’s the story?

An interesting display of sportsmanship was on view in the first qualifier between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant at the Wankhede Stadium. During the final ball of the penultimate over of the home team’s chase, Mitchell McClenaghan smashed a slower delivery from Jaydev Unadkat towards the deep mid wicket region. 

Upon running towards the opportunity, Ajinkya Rahane pulled out a half-dive and allowed the ball to fall into his hands. But, his right foot had touched the boundary rope while he was still in control of the ball. He then somehow managed to parry the ball to skipper Steven Smith who gleefully accepted it.

Acknowledging that he was not sure about the legality of the catch, Rahane immediately signalled ‘six’ to the umpires. However, the on-field umpires did not pay heed to his gesture and carried a soft signal of ‘out’ before sending the decision upstairs. After utilising the technology on offer, the third umpire finally adjudged a maximum. 

Watch Rahane’s fair play here

The Background

Earlier in the game, Rahane had shown his class with the bat as well. The 28-year old played the anchor role to perfection by registering a 43-ball 56. His knock helped set the platform for MS Dhoni to finish the innings on a sparkling note. In the end, RPS completed a 20-run victory to cruise to the summit clash.

The heart of the matter

Rahane could have had a better chance at pulling off the sensational catch if he had jumped beyond the boundary first, then leapt up and parried the ball to Smith in one motion. In that case, his foot might not have touched the rope and the catch would have been clean.

According to Law 19.4 of the MCC manual, a catch is legal if

(i) the first contact with the ball is by a fielder, not touching or grounded beyond the boundary, who has some part of his person grounded within the boundary or whose final contact with the ground before touching the ball was entirely within the boundary.

Any fielder subsequently touching the ball is not subject to this restriction.  

On a pertinent note, the rules were changed during October 2013 to facilitate such amazing fielding performances along the boundary ropes. Prior to that, the starting point of a fielder’s jump had to be from the area within the field of play.

What’s next?

While the on-field umpires were unable to spot Rahane’s signal of six from the other side of the rope, his honesty should certainly go a long way in bolstering RPS‘ standing in the Fair Play award table. They are currently positioned fifth on that front.

Author’s Take

Even though the catch was not legal, Rahane’s presence of mind along the boundary rope was captivating, to say the least. More importantly, his display of sportsmanship embodied the spirit of the game.

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