South Africa vs India 2018: Aiden Markram's breathtaking catch to dismiss Hardik Pandya is SK Play of the Day
With both feet off the ground, Markram leaps high and plucks the ball from thin air.
South Africa have a reputation for producing one world-class fielder after another. During the mid 1990s till the mid 2000s, the likes of Jonty Rhodes and Herschelle Gibbs prowled in the inner ring to provide numerous breathtaking moments on the field. Then, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis took over the mantle to maintain their country's impeccable fielding standards.
Just five matches into his fledgling ODI career, stand-in skipper Aiden Markram showcased his fielding skills by evoking astonishment throughout the iconic Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. During a crucial moment in the fourth match against India, he produced one of the best catches seen in recent times.
Watch the highlights of Aiden Markram's spectacular catch here
In the last ball of the 47th over of India's innings, Markram leapt up in the air and pulled off a scarcely believable catch to dismiss the dangerous Hardik Pandya. The timely moment of magic on the field helped South Africa resist the Indian lower-order's charge during the business stages of their innings.
Shikhar Dhawan's sublime century in his 100th ODI appearance as well as Virat Kohli's 83-ball 75 established a solid platform for India's lower middle-order to take the attack to the Proteas. Following a splendid 158-run partnership, the skipper was dismissed. After a lightning induced break, Dhawan eventually perished for a well-made 109 from 105 balls.
Once Ajinkya Rahane was sent back to the pavilion, the seasoned MS Dhoni looked to form a partnership with Shreyas Iyer. The latter threw his wicket away whilst attempting to up the ante. Hardik Pandya strode into the arena during the 44th over of the innings.
Markram stunner removes Pandya
A length ball from Chris Morris allowed Pandya to hammer a boundary and get into the groove. Just when it seemed like the hard-hitting all rounder would launch a late blitz to shore up the total, Markam intervened.
Kagiso Rabada piled up the pressure on the batsmen by varying his length smartly. With the first five deliveries of the 47th over fetching just three runs, India badly needed Pandya to find the boundary. The right-arm pacer unleashed a cross-seam delivery aimed at the block hole.
Unable to get underneath the ball properly, Pandya mistimed an attempted lofted cover drive. As the ball flew above the cover region, one could be forgiven for thinking that it might have crossed the vicinity. However, Markram jumped high and plucked the ball from thin air.
The key part of the breathtaking catch was the manner in which the stand-in skipper timed his jump to precision. With both feet up in the air, he threw his right hand in the hope of catching the ball. To his serendipity, he managed to hold on to the opportunity. Markram showed his awareness by landing sideways as to remain in control of the ball.
With Pandya removed from the equation, South Africa managed to sneak in three relatively reasonable overs at the death and restricted India to 289. In a game where his team needed something special to turn their tide in the series, Markram led from the front and completed a jaw-dropping catch. The 23-year old's brilliance on the field evoked similarities with Jonty Rhodes' flying catch against England during the 1999 World Cup.