August 14, 2015 6:56:09 pm
Seventh ball into his innings, Sri Lankan batsman Dinesh Chandimal attempted a sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin. The ball bounced a little more, took the top edge and went to backward short leg. The sound might have reached the Galle Fort but umpire Bruce Oxenford was unmoved. Lahiru Thirimanne, too, was given a reprieve in the next over, this time by umpire Nigel Llong. The left-hander went forward to an Amit Mishra leg-break, had a thick inside edge on to the pad and the ball lobbed to silly point. Llong negated the appeal and the Indians looked flabbergasted.
TV umpire Ranmore Martinesz soon joined the party. Chandimal had driven a Mishra delivery which met silly point’s boot before popping up for the bowler to complete a simple catch. On referral, the umpire didn’t find the video evidence conclusive enough to rule Chandimal out.
It was almost a throwback to the 1980s, when every touring team to Sri Lanka found it very difficult to get decisions in their favour. During India’s visit across the Palk Strait in 1985, Kris Srikkanth was once given out at both ends; the bowler’s end umpire adjudging him leg before, while the square leg man upholding a stumping appeal. Those were the days of ‘patriotic’ match officials. Now we’ve neutral umpires at both ends so parochialism is no longer an issue. On Friday at the Galle International Stadium, both Llong and Oxenford put an exhibition of incompetence.
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A more experienced team might have taken things in their stride, but this young Indian outfit looked rattled. They were demoralised and lost control of the proceedings. Chandimal and Thirimanne pounced on the opportunity, adding 125 runs for the sixth wicket. The former remained unbeaten on 162 as the hosts reached to 375 all out in their second innings. Now India are under pressure, needing another 153 runs for victory with nine wickets remaining on a tricky wicket.
Both umpires will figure badly in Kohli’s post-match ratings but do India really have a right to complain? Human error is part of the game and the players should be prepared for such reverses, especially on overseas tours, as long as the BCCI is not changing its stand on Decision Review System (DRS).
Maybe the Indian cricket board will have a rethink about the use of technology after this Test. A couple of months ago, BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya had said that subject to a vote of consent from the newly-formed cricket advisory committee, the BCCI might accept DRS “partially”. But there shouldn’t be any half measures. Every other Test-playing nation has accepted the DRS in its present form and the BCCI’s logic that the method is not foolproof doesn’t hold water. Time to get wiser after Friday’s incidents.
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