Catches win matches. The adage in cricket is always served up soon after a team loses after dropping catches. Interestingly, the saying, which has become more like a cliché, is never brought up when spectacular catches help a team win. Weird, though the essence of it is about catches winning matches.
It was rolled out on Monday when Krishnappa Gowtham of the Chennai Super Kings spilled a catch that helped the Delhi Capitals scramble to victory in the IPL 2021 game. Such a drop would normally would have been ignored simply because skiers make for tricky catches on the boundary line. It’s just that CSK had cranked up the pressure raising visions of an unlikely win in Dubai. Unlikely, given the low total they had posted.
That catch of Shimron Hetmyer, if taken, would have pushed Chennai to the doorstep of victory as Delhi’s resolve and batting had begun to unravel.
Hetmyer is a typical West Indian cricketer with a broad grin and broad shoulders. He can hit long distances. It’s tempting to label him “Hitmyer”, but like all stroke players, he too is inconsistent. But at this time, he was Delhi’s best bet.
When the run rate rose and pressure mounted, Hetmyer faced off with another West Indian. Another one with a broad grin, but more loose-limbed and athletic. More than strength, Dwayne Bravo relies on his brain, and the result is a blend of tricky deliveries of varying pace. His haul of more than 500 T20 wickets is a testament to their effectiveness.
Hetmyer had no time or regard for reputations. The left-hander launched Bravo for a boundary and tried to follow it up with a six. The ball soared over long-on where substitute fielder Gowtham waited. Nine times out of ten, he would have taken the catch. But this time, it burst through his hands and rolled to the ropes.
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Gowtham dropped the match. No big deal. He didn’t drop the IPL crown. This was not a Herschelle Gibbs moment when the South African dropped Steve Waugh in a crucial game in the 1999 World Cup. The dropped catch helped the Australian skipper score an unbeaten 120 and kept the team’s chances alive. Australia went on to win the cup, and Gibbs, a brilliant fielder and batsman, had to live in cricketing infamy.
Chennai still can win IPL 2021. So Gowtham shouldn’t be pilloried. It may be an expensive drop, considering that CSK splashed out 92.5 million rupees (Dh4.46 million) to buy him, making Gowtham the most expensive uncapped player in IPL history. None of that justifies the roasting he has suffered at the hands of trolls.
Gowtham sure will have sleepless nights. The trolling has been brutal. Some tweeted in support as well. But Gowtham should take heart from the fact that his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni never even alluded to the dropped catch in his post-match chat. He’s seen many more important catches dropped. So it wouldn’t worry him because there’s no guarantee that a new substitute won’t drop a more crucial catch.
Give Gowtham a break. “To err is human; to forgive, divine,” the English poet Alexander Pope wrote. That’s enough reason for the CSK fans to start whistling for him.