India took on England in the 2nd T20I of the five-match series in Ahmedabad on Sunday (March 14).
The hosts, who had lost the previous encounter by 8 wickets, made a couple of changes to their line-up. India dropped Shikhar Dhawan and Axar Patel from the team that played the last match and handed debut caps to Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav.
Keeping in mind the two-paced pitch that has tended to quicken up in the second half, the home team captain Virat Kohli opted to bowl first after winning the toss. India restricted the visitors to a modest total of 164/6 and went on to reach the 165-run target inside 18 overs with seven wickets in hand.
Captain Virat Kohli was outstanding in the run-chase once again, playing an unbeaten knock of 73 off 49 balls. Kishan, the debutant, played the other stand-out innings of the night as he blazed his willow for 56 runs off 32 balls.
While most of the play on Sunday carried a sense of normalcy, a controversial instance involving Virat Kohli on the 2nd ball of the 15th over in the Indian innings caught everyone’s attention and became a topic of discussions after the match.
A loopy leg break from England spinner Adil Rashid induced an uppish drive from Kohli, who was beaten all ends up on the outside edge of his bat. Jos Buttler, the wicketkeeper batsman, grabbed hold of the ball and was quick to remove the bails. Buttler, Rashid and the rest of their teammates went for a loud appeal. Kohli’s outer demeanour suggested he was well in. But the leg-umpire recognised the importance of the moment and the tightness of the call by sending it upstairs.
The third umpire checked the slow-motion replays and on the giant screen, Kohli appeared to be in trouble. The naked eye suggested that the captain of India is out. However, the third umpire zoomed in further and felt that some part of Kohli’s boot is a shade inside the crease when the bails are lit up.
This only raised the doubts and the third umpire felt there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to give Kohli out. The Indian captain was reprieved by a very thin margin.
While the Indian team would’ve been obviously happy to have the decision go in their favour, the Englishmen must have definitely felt hard done by. Even though the game was nearing its end at that stage with an Indian win in the offing, Kohli being considered safe closed out any possible opening for England.
Fans also stood divided on the matter as the Indian section thought it’s only right for the third umpire to play safe when there is doubt, the English section thought it was rather obvious that Kohli’s foot was on the line, with nothing behind.
The latter section even raised question marks on third umpire Virender Sharma’s credentials and whether there is some bias in play from his side?
Such level of scrutiny isn’t new for umpires no matter which country they are operating in and they get used to handling it over time. Given that the stakes are very high at the international stage, umpires opt for the safer route and avoid the risky option.
When in doubt, the technology is sought for help. But until the technology offers conclusive evidence, the doubt remains and therefore the ‘umpire’s call’ is retained. If third umpire Sharma hadn’t found anything doubtful in the replays he was shown, he would’ve definitely given Virat Kohli out.