Even the most vehement detractors of the Umpire's Decision Referral System (UDRS) might reconsider their stand after what happened during the first Test in Ahmedabad. All three apparent instances of the on-field umpires getting it wrong in the first Test went against India after captain MS Dhoni publicly decried using the system on match eve.
The first one came on Day III when Kane Williamson survived a confident caught-behind appeal, off Zaheer Khan, when on 56 before scoring a century. On the last day on Monday, VVS Laxman was ruled leg before despite getting an inside edge off Daniel Vettori and next ball, Zaheer got the same deal.
Kumar Dharmasena was the umpire who ruled Williamson not out and Simon Davis made the leg before decisions.
Dhoni was not available for comment after the Test but Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, was as was Harbhajan Singh. One day before the start of the first Test, Dhoni had said he didn't like UDRS because it was not 100% accurate.
"I wouldn't buy a life jacket if it doesn't come with a warranty. Same for the UDRS," Dhoni had said. On Monday, both Vettori and Harbhajan spoke in favour of the system. "I have always been a fan of the use of technology. If there is an assurance that the system will help get correct decisions, I am for it," Vettori said.
"There is no reason why an incorrect decision should be made when there is technology available to get correct ones. I would like to have such a system in place," said Vettori, whose Test tally of 331 wickets would have read 329 had the UDRS been used in this series.
Harbhajan spoke on similar lines. "I don't mind using the UDRS. We had it in Sri Lanka (in 2008) and I quite liked it as I got a couple of wickets. It was out, given not out and then we got the decision. But I am no one to decide on this. There are big people to take a call on this. My job is to bowl, bat and field. That's all I can do," said the Man of the Match. A reason why the umpiring errors on the final day of the first Test were not talked about is that they came at a stage of the match when there was no possibility of a result. Imagine what would have happened had Laxman been erroneously given out after a huge shout for a catch at forward short-leg, off Jeetan Patel, with India gasping at 26 for five on the fourth evening.
Following the India-Sri Lanka series in Sri Lanka in 2008 when the UDRS was used on an experimental basis, India have constantly opposed it. The system has not featured in any series involving India after that because both teams need to agree for it to be implemented. Australia, England, South Africa and Sri Lanka use it regularly and there is talk that of it being seen in next year’s World Cup. Time will tell how the superpower reacts to it.