A spectacular batting assault by Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds was sullied by association with one of the most grotesque umpiring decisions of recent times, as India had a precious advantage snatched and their morale battered on the first day of the second Test in Sydney.
<b1>West Indian Steve Bucknor, who always seems to reserve his most horrifying form for India, said not out to a massive edge off Ishant Sharma that was missed by no one but the umpire. Symonds, then 30 not out in Australia’s 193/6, went on to finish the day unbeaten at 137, with Australia at 376/7, and India’s hopes of leveling the series hanging by a thread.
At the press conference later, Symonds said: "I was very lucky. I was out when I was 30, given not out. That’s cricket though…"
The poor umpiring didn’t end here. There were three other blunders, two of which went against India. Ricky Ponting, then 17, was given not out by Mark Benson after he nicked one off Sourav Ganguly. Ponting went on to make 55 before falling, ironically, to another blunder by Benson. And there was Symonds again, saved while on 48 by a poor stumping judgement by third umpire Bruce Oxenford.
Aussie great Ian Chappell described the umpiring as "shocking". "I’d be okay with things if there was justice for all," he said. "…What will you tell Ishant Sharma, a kid who should have had that wicket of Symonds to his name?"
Ravi Shastri agreed. "My heart goes out to Ishant and the Indians," he told HT. "There is no doubt that there is a gap between Australia and the other teams. But having decisions like this go against them is terrible."
The extremely upset Indians met in the dressing room, and later in a tour committee meeting at the hotel. There was some talk of lodging an official complaint against the umpiring, but that is unlikely to happen till the Test gets over. Senior members gave large doses of pep talk to the youngsters, the impact of which though, remains to be seen.