5 best Indian fielders of all time
India played its Test match in 1932 but for a long time, the team was never known for its fielding. The elegant batsmen or the crafty bowlers ruled the roost. Following the emergence of the quartet, great close-in fielders emerged and after the limited overs boom of the 1990s, Indian cricket started taking fielding far more seriously.
Over the past two decades, plenty of cricketers emerged who were well aware of the demands of limited overs cricket and the overall advantage good fielding can give to a team. Hence, most of the great Indian fielders emerged in the modern era, with a few exceptions. So, let's take a look at 5 of the best fielders that India has ever had.
#5 Robin Singh
Former Indian all-rounder Robin Singh became an integral part of the limited overs side during the late 1990s due to his disciplined bowling and hard hitting batting at number 6. However, his contribution to the team as a fielder was equally important and during that period, he emerged as one of India' best fielders.
Singh used to field at point during the early overs and could throw himself on either side to stop deliveries from getting to the boundary. Additionally, he had a rocket arm and whenever he fielded in the deep, he sent in fast, flat throws that kept the batsman honest.
Singh played at the same time as Ajay Jadeja, another fine fielder, but he had an all-round brilliance as a fielder that the latter did not have.
#4 Suresh Raina
When Suresh Raina first caught the eye of the national selectors during the U-19 World Cup, one thing that stood out in addition to his skills as a quality left-hand batsman was his exceptional abilities as a fielder.
He duly delivered on that promise when Raina eventually made it to the Indian team and emerged as one of the best fielders in the world. Like most of the best fielders of the recent years, Raina showed the ability to dive either way to stop hard hit shots, effect run-outs and of course pull off absolute blinders at various positions.
In limited overs cricket, he was a huge presence in the ring during the powerplays and often stopped certain boundaries with his raw reflexes and skills of anticipation. As a fielder, Raina remains peerless.
#3 Eknath Solkar
All rounder Eknath Solkar, who played most of his Tests for India in the 1970s, is often regarded as the greatest close-in fielder in cricket history and his position of choice was the forward short leg position.
It was a happy coincidence that the famous Indian spin bowling quartet of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar, and Venkataraghavan ruled the roost in that era and gave him ample opportunities to show his worth as a close-in fielder. Solkar was not only blessed with lightning quick reflexes and catching ability, but he also had the gift of anticipating a batsman's stoke.
That made it possible for him to pull off plenty of stunning catches and in addition to that, he was fearless. He stood closer to the pitch than most other short leg fielders and that too in an age when helmets and shin guards were not worn by fielders.
He will forever be regarded as India's very first world-class fielder and one of the greatest in history.
#2 Ravindra Jadeja
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is one of the finest fielders that India has ever produced and right from the time he first played for India, he has almost always delivered on the field.
When he first started playing cricket in Jamnagar, his coach laid great emphasis on fielding and Jadeja's evolution as one of the world's finest fielders is perhaps, then, not a surprise. That said, Jadeja's prowess as a fielder rests on his ability to field perfectly well at positions within the circle or in the deep.
He is a fielding all-rounder and in addition to that, he has a strong arm as well as a penchant for hitting the stumps, that often creates confusion among batsmen.
Additionally, diving around, retrieving deliveries inches from the boundary and generally being a total thorn in the flesh for the batting side, makes him perhaps one of the best fielders India has ever had.
#1 Yuvraj Singh
Having watched the brilliance of the likes of Jonty Rhodes, Herschelle Gibbs and Ricky Ponting in the field for a long time, the Indian fans finally had a fielder who could do what the best modern fielders could in Yuvraj Singh.
He could do everything. Spectacular diving catches at point, running after well-timed shots and stopping them with perfectly times dives, direct hits that often found batsmen short and fast, flat throws from the deep. Yuvraj could do everything as a fielder and throughout his career as an Indian cricketer, he set the benchmark as far as fielding was concerned.
He was the fielder who could change games with a flying catch or a crucial direct run-out and for the better part of his career, Yuvraj often turned out to be matchwinner as a fielder along. Nowadays, he is no longer the livewire that he used to be but for a generation of young Indian cricketers, Yuvraj was the fielder everyone looked up to.
There is no doubt that he is the greatest fielder that India has ever produced.