Harbhajan Singh being greeted by BBCI president N Srinivasan for his 100th Test appearance during the first Test match between India and Australia at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. (PTI)
If at the end of the first day’s play of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India cannot claim to have the advantage in the first Test, it can be blamed on a big umpiring blunder.
With R Ashwin weaving a spin web around Australia, it looked a matter of time before the visitors’ innings folded up. Ashwin had run through the top order to reduce Australia to 206 for five, and only Michael Clarke stood between the two teams.
Then came the kind of moment which are said to turn matches and series.
Ashwin came up with a wicket-taking delivery, but Clarke got away when umpire Kumar Dharmasena didn’t pick up a thick inside edge, which ballooned up to short leg fielder Cheteshwar Pujara off the batsman’s thigh pad. Clarke was on 38 then and went on to score an unbeaten 103 and help Australia finish the day on 316 for seven.
For many, the Indian team has itself to blame, for if they had agreed to the use of umpires’ decision review system (DRS) for the series, they could have contested the decision.
The Indian cricket board is the only one against the use of this technology and the bowler to suffer, Ashwin, supported his board’s stance on Friday. “What if we’d gone for DRS and didn’t have another review left?” commented the Indian off-spinner when asked whether after the incident he felt with DRS the situation of the game would have been different.
The review system is used in the ICC events, but when it comes to bilateral series, N Srinivasan & Co are against the use of DRS in its present form. In a recent interview, BCCI president Srinivasan said: “We don’t believe in it (DRS). I don't want to dictate to other people. We don't believe the technology is good enough.”
A similar umpiring blunder had changed the course of the 2007-08 series against Australia when umpire Steve Bucknor failed to notice a thick edge off Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test. He went on to hammer an unbeaten 162 to help Australia recover from 134 for six to 463 and win the series.