Much before the controversial Jos Buttler dismissal from IPL 2019, premier India off-spinner R Ashwin was nearly involved in another debatable instance of running out a non-striker.
Ashwin almost inflicted a run-out against Sri Lankan batter Lahiru Thirimanne while he stood at the other end but the batter was saved via a withdrawal of appeal from India’s stand-in captain Virender Sehwag.
The incident is from the 2012 tri-nation series in Australia. India were taking on fellow visitors and neighbours Sri Lanka in Brisbane for an important encounter without their regular skipper MS Dhoni.
On the third ball of the 40th over, with Sri Lanka 196/4, Ashwin ran up to bowl for Angelo Mathews. However, the bowler stopped just before going ahead with his delivery stride, and took out the bails at the other end where Thirimanne, batting well on 44 at the time, was found well outside the crease.
R Ashwin immediately went up in appeal to umpire Paul Reiffel before dropping the ball on the floor and going up to his captain Sehwag, triggering a discussion between Reiffel and his on-field partner Billy Bowden.
How Lahiru Thirimanne survived the run-out despite R Ashwin catching him short?
Because Sachin Tendulkar intervened and urged Sehwag to take Ashwin’s appeal back. It seemed that Reiffel and Bowden had left the decision on Sehwag if he wants to stay with his team’s appeal or withdraw it.
When Sehwag was responding to the two umpires’ words, the skipper seems to be pointing out the legitimacy of R Ashwin’s appeal as Thirimanne tried to steal a few crucial inches at his end.
Just then, however, Tendulkar came up to him and within those important seconds, he asked Sehwag to not go ahead with the appeal. Sehwag changed his mind at the discretion of his senior teammate before informing Reiffel and Bowden of the same.
The two umpires then made the call confirmed to Thirimanne and Mathews, allowing Sri Lanka to resume their innings without a wicket falling despite replays confirming that the left-hander had taken multiple steps outside the crease well before the bowler even got into his stride.
Thirimanne made only another 18 runs in his innings before being dismissed but in R Ashwin being denied the wicket, the Indian stance against the act of non-striker getting run-out for stealing a few inches was reinforced.
Ashwin, as is well known, is one of the firm believers in the need to detach the sense of taboo from such run-out instances when they are allowed by the laws.