Acrobatics and relay catches in T20 cricket are common now. The fielders go an extra mile in training sessions to stop runs in the batting-friendly format. It takes time to master the jump over the rope, while releasing the ball in air, to complete a clean catch on return.
Five years ago, there was no guarantee whether Nicholas Pooran would live. A nasty road accident in Trinidad had injured his knees and ankle. Cut to 2020, the West Indian flew to stop a six; perhaps not too difficult if coached by the first superman of international cricket — Jonty Rhodes.
Against Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah, the Kings XI Punjab cricketer flung himself beyond the boundary rope in full stretch to stop a Sanju Samson pull that looked destined for a maximum. He pushed the ball back into the field of play without touching ground. All in micro milliseconds.
It is to be noted that Pooran is primarily a wicketkeeper. But Rhodes is perhaps turning the stumper into a solid deep fielder. The South African applauded from the dugout while bowler Murugan Ashwin stood stunned.
Later, Pooran revealed that Rhodes was indeed training the players to turn a few possible sixes into catches, or at least save those runs.
Even with the bat, he had scored a quick 25 not out off eight deliveries to push Kings XI to 223. And after three days, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he smashed the fastest fifty (off 17 balls) of the ongoing edition.