Dead ball controversy explained: Why India were given 3 byes after Virat Kohli was bowled off free hit vs Pakistan

Oct 24, 2022 07:39 AM IST

Controversy ensued during the final over of the match when India were awarded byes after Kohli was bowled off a free hit during the match against Pakistan at the T20 World Cup.

Team India registered a dramatic four-wicket win over Pakistan in its T20 World Cup opener on Sunday. The side chased down a 160-run target in exactly 20 overs, with Ravichandran Ashwin hitting the winning runs on the final ball of the match. It was Virat Kohli, however, who emerged as the hero of the match for India as the batter remained unbeaten on 82 off just 53 deliveries, steering the side to a victorious start at the marquee tournament.

Virat Kohli; Babar Azam argues with umpire over the decision(ANI)
Virat Kohli; Babar Azam argues with umpire over the decision(ANI)

However, the match wasn't bereft of controversy; while Axar Patel's run out decision created significant furore among the fans as many believed that Rizwan had dislodged the bails off his gloves, the final over also produced drama at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. On the fourth delivery of the over, Kohli smashed a huge six off Mohammad Nawaz when the side needed 13 runs off three deliveries; seconds later, the umpire also called it a no ball due to height.

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While the next delivery was adjudged wide, Nawaz succeeded in castling Kohli as he bowled the batter out, but since it was a free-hit, Kohli was safe. The batter, with his partner Dinesh Karthik, ran three. But controversy ensued after the Pakistan players including captain Babar Azam had a discussion with the umpire on whether the runs should be awarded to the Indian team.

According to the commentators, it seemed Babar wanted the delivery to be called a ‘dead ball’, since it hit the stumps.

But what does the rule say?

According to the MCC Laws of Cricket, the ball can only become dead when "it is finally settled in the hands of the wicketkeeper or of the bowler", or when "a boundary is scored."

The ball can also be called a dead ball when "a batter is dismissed. The ball will be deemed to be dead from the instant of the incident causing the dismissal."

The law - 20.1.1 – also states the other different ways of declaring a ball dead, including the times when the umpire has the authority on the decision. With regards to ball hitting the stumps, the umpire can call the ball dead when “one or both bails fall from the striker’s wicket before the striker has had the opportunity of playing the ball.”

In free-hit, there are only four modes of dismissals allowed -- handled the ball, hit the ball twice, obstructing the field, and run out -- and hence, India were awarded a bye as the ball was still in play. Since India needed 5 runs to win in three balls before the ball was bowled, the equation came down to 2 needed in as many deliveries.

While Dinesh Karthik was stumped out on the next delivery, Ashwin kept his calm to guide India to win with a lofted shot over mid-off.

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