Harleen Deol’s stunning catch at the boundary that provided a rare moment of joy for the Indian women’s team in the first T20I against England, which it lost by 18 runs under DLS method, has earned accolades from a a cross section of the society including ex-cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, corporate honcho Anand Mahindra and politicians Smriti Irani and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The catch, which saw Harleen cupping it, throwing it in the air after losing balance and going out of the boundary and then diving inside the field to take it, was good enough to become a rage on social media.
“That was a brilliant catch @imharleenDeol. Definitely the catch of the year for me!,” tweeted former India batsman and captain Tendulkar, who holds the record for most runs and centuries in Tests and ODIs.
Tendulkar’s long-time India teammate VVS Laxman also tweeted his admiration.
“As good a catch one will ever see on a cricket field, from Harleen Deol. Absolutely top class,” said former India batsman VVS Laxman.
England wicketkeeper Amy Jones was looking ominous, batting on 43 off 26 deliveries. On the fifth ball of the 19th over, she went for a heave off pacer Shikha Pandey. It seemed that the ball would go for a six. But Harleen summoned all her athletic ability to pouch it.
The 23-year-old, positioned at long-off, timed her jump well and took a reverse-cupped catch above her head. As she was losing balance, she threw the ball up in the air before crossing the boundary. She then regained balance and jumped back into the ground time to make a full-stretch dive to complete the catch inside the boundary.
Union Minister Smriti Irani, a former TV actor, tweeted, “Women in Blue setting new benchmarks. More power to @imharleenDeol!”
Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra placed the effort at an even higher level, saying Harleen has upstaged actress Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Mahindra tweeted, “Nope. Not possible. Couldn’t have happened. Must be some special effects trick. What? It was real? Ok, move over Gal Gadot; the real WonderWoman is here…”
“This is easily one of the best fielding moments ever! Truly incredible #HarleenDeol !! @BCCIWomen!,” tweeted Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is also the son of former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Madhavrao Scindia.
Harleen’s effort was also acknowledged by some of the players in the England camp, who applauded it.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) tweeted the video of the effort which was quote-tweeted and retweeted by others.
“A fantastic piece of fielding [emoticon: clapping hands],” tweeted ECB along with the video.
Former Australia woman cricketer Lisa Sthalekar expressed disbelief, reeling off multiple emoticons on twitter.
“OMG [emoticons: face screaming in fear, exploding head] @imharleenDeol take a bow!! Calling it now the best we will see this series!!,” tweeted Lisa.
This isn’t the first time Indian women have impressed with their fielding.
Three balls before Harleen’s jaw-dropping effort, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur came in from long-on and dived forward to complete a low catch to send back Natalie Sciver (55 off 27 balls) to pavilion.
In the third and final ODI at Worcester last Saturday, Smriti Mandhana had pulled off an extraordinary catch to dismiss Natalie in the 38th over. Smriti ran towards her left and dived full length at the cow corner to complete the catch.
Harleen and Harmanpreet’s efforts were the few bright spots for India in the rain-hit match. England lead the multi-format series 8-4 on points with the second T20I scheduled to be played at Hove on Sunday.