This year's IPL has witnessed a lot of dropped catches and missed chances that have resulted in a change of fortune. Not only have players dropped catches at crucial situations but they have done so repeatedly, giving a batsmen many lives in a single innings. As we enter the business end of the tournament, let's look at who are the best and worst fielding teams and who are the key game changers - positively and negatively.
Best Catching Team
One would expect fielding standards to improve as the season progresses. However, it looks like the same teams are making the same mistakes repeatedly. The teams that started the tournament on a high fielding-wise are the same teams who are consistently at the top. Kings X1 Punjab and Chennai Super Kings are the safest catchers with a conversion rate of 88% and 87.7 % respectively.
Kings XI do not have a line-up of great fielders and yet they have managed to do well, dropping just five catches from 42 attempts. Similarly, Super Kings have always referred to themselves as a "safe" unit and the numbers suggest the same. They have dropped just eight from 65 attempts. The inclusion of Faf Du Plessis in the XI has played a huge role in their standard improving.
On the other hand, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders have been poor in their catching from the start. While RCB have dropped 20 catches from 50 possible attempts, KKR have dropped 13 from 37. In certain cases, both these teams have dropped the same batsmen on multiple occasions resulting in losses. Jonny Bairstow was dropped thrice on his way to an unbeaten 80 against KKR while Chris Lynn was dropped thrice against RCB. In a game of such small margins, one extra life is worth so much more and hence teams need to ensure their fielding is at its very best as we move closer to the playoffs. RCB have also made the most mistakes in the field in terms of fumbles (43) while KKR have conceded more runs than they have saved.
Rishabh Pant has been brilliant behind the stumps, taking some real tough catches for Kagiso Rababda and Chris Morris. Pant is yet to drop a catch this season having taken 13 from 13 attempts. Quinton de Kock, Bairstow and MS Dhoni have also been safe catchers. Among the outfielders, Deepak Hooda and Hardik Pandya have caught all their catches with a 100% conversion rate, while du Plessis has also been outstanding converting 10 of the 11 catches he has got.
This season there are two outfielders who have dropped three or more catches each. RCB captain Virat Kohli is one with four drops from six attempts and Rajasthan Royals pacer Jofra Archer is the other with three drops from six attempts. Interestingly, all of Archer's drops came in one game, against Mumbai Indians at home. Even a someone of the pedigree of Kieron Pollard has dropped two sitters.
The grounds that have been the hardest to catch are Jaipur and Hyderabad. Both venues have seen only a 70% catch-conversion rate. This could be due to dew, the interference of the flood lights or just the sheer size of the ground.