Umpire’s call leaves India’s reviews in a bind in 3rd Test vs South Africa

The Decision Review System (DRS) has a complicated option of the ‘umpire’s call’ to decide on marginal decisions, even when the ruling is referred to the TV umpire.

cricket Updated: Jan 25, 2018 21:33 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India,Indian cricket team
Indian players watch the big screen waiting for the third umpire to review an LBW decision during the second day of the third Test against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday.(BCCI)

With an on-field umpire, it is either out or not out. You have to live with it, regardless of how many TV replays there are after that. However, the Decision Review System (DRS) has a complicated option of the ‘umpire’s call’ to decide on marginal decisions, even when the ruling is referred to the TV umpire. (India vs South Africa blog | Scorecard)

This clearly gave India a difficult time, not just on Thursday, but on the previous day as well.

Ajinkya Rahane was adjudged leg-before by Ian Gould after the English umpire had spared Cheteshwar Pujara off a similar delivery earlier on Wednesday. While the umpire’s call option had saved Pujara despite TV replays showing the ball would have clipped leg-stump, it ended Rahane’s comeback. It was an example of how human error couldn’t be rectified by technology.

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Hashim Amla too benefitted on Thursday. India’s woes with DRS started in the 28th over when Ishant Sharma struck Amla on the pad with the leg-stump visible. After Virat Kohli sought a review, the ball tracker showed it to be umpire’s call for height.

Seven overs later, Amla was again struck in front of the stumps, this time by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but the umpire wasn’t sure despite strong appeals from Kohli and the bowler. On reviewing it, the ball tracker showed the impact to be just above Amla’s knee-roll with the ball going on to kiss the top of off-stump. That again made it ‘umpire’s call’, allowing Amla to escape.


Bhuvneshwar and Amla were at it again in the 41st over when Gould seemed to have given him out on second thoughts. Knowing the impact was way outside off-stump, Amla reviewed almost immediately to get a life. This happened after India didn’t review a leg-before appeal against AB de Villiers when Ishant’s delivery struck him almost plumb. Probably wary of the ‘umpire’s call’ factor, Kohli decided against reviewing and couldn’t hide his frustration when the ball tracker showed the ball would have hit the stumps, not just clip it.

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As unlucky as India were with some reviews, they were also shambolic with the judgement of some of their calls. Like when they went for a review with Mohammed Shami coming around the wicket and hitting Quinton de Kock on the pad. For the naked eye, it was clear the angle of the delivery would have carried the ball away from the stumps, but India still reviewed.

All that it did was waste some more time and add four leg-byes to the South Africa total. The only time everything came right for India was when Bumrah’s leg-before appeal against Andile Phehlukwayo, after hitting him in line with leg-stump, was upheld.

Given it was a full toss, height was never an issue as the batsman’s review showed.

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 21:24 IST