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Five instances when India sorely missed the Decision Review System

India Today logo India Today 22-10-2016
© AP Photo

For years, since the inception of cricket, the task of making decisions on the field was always left to the umpires. These two men, always in focus, were prone to make mistakes but that added to the charm of the game. As the sport evolved, the administrators felt the need to make cricket error-free and therein introduced the Decision Review System (DRS). The attempt was to minimise human mistakes through the use of technology. But not everyone was sold out on the idea, especially the game's richest and most powerful force - India.

After being on the wrong side repeatedly in the first trial run back in 2008 in the Test series against Sri Lanka, India have been extremely wary and sceptical of DRS as an effective tool. Their players and administrators have raised questions, asking for full-proof technology. Over the years, India have refused to use DRS in bilateral series - its usage is mandatory in all ICC events.

But there have also been instances where the absence of DRS has hurt India. After dubious appeals were upheld against their batsmen and strong appeals by their bowlers were turned down, fans would have been pleading for the DRS. But the BCCI has refused to budge from their stance.

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In the 2015 Adelaide Test between New Zealand and Australia, the DRS came under severe criticism for not being able to provide conclusive evidence. New Zealand believed third umpire Nigel Llong's reprieve of Nathan Lyon had a serious impact in the result of the game, which went in favour of the hosts.

Like any other technological advancement in its nascent stage, the DRS too has attracted a lot of criticism. India have been the fiercest critic of the review system that is touted to remove.

India's aversion to DRS is primarily due to the high cost of DRS despite its shortcomings - the usage of ball-tacker projection technology which is crucial to effectiveness of DRS. Also, the board has always reiterated their stand saying they can't use the technology unless they had complete evidence that it was 100 percent accurate.

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However, here are five instances when Team India dearly missed the services of the Decision Review System:

South Africa in India, 2015

At the end of the first ODI between India and South Africa in October 2015, Team India decided to lodge a complaint against on-field umpire Vineet Kulkarni.

In the opening match of South Africa's 72-day long tour, the first T20I - Bhuvneshwar Kumar fired in a perfect yorker that caught JP Duminy plumb in-front in the 17th over, with South Africa still needing 44 runs off 24 balls to win. But umpire Kulkarni was unperturbed by the huge appeals and decided to let Duminy continue. The South African grabbed the opportunity and went on to seal the game for his team. Indian skipper MS Dhoni voiced his anxiety in the post-match presentation ceremony saying, "It could have been different if we could have got Duminy out early."

India lost the momentum early in the series and went on to lose both the T20 and the subsequent ODI series against the visitors.

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India in Sri Lanka, 2015

India clinched defeat from the "jaws of victory" in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle last year. Virat Kohli indicated he regretted not having DRS in the series.

As many as five decisions went against India and that could have cost them the Test. In the first innings, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were the victims of some ordinary umpiring. Both were given lbw off balls that would have missed the leg stump. The fatal blow came when Sri Lanka batsman Dinesh Chandimal was given a life after being caught at backward short leg. The umpire's decision that went in favour of the batsman saw him score a counterattacking second innings ton. Sri Lanka came back from nowhere for a sensational win. Had India availed of the DRS, they could have returned home with the satisfaction of a whitewash over the islanders.

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India in Australia, 2014

The Brisbane Test of 2014 between hosts Australia and India will be remembered more some glaring for umpiring errors than for Murali Vijay's cracking 144 in testing conditions. The then Test skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat . India rode on Vijay's brilliant batting to reach 408 in the first innings. The visitors, however, conceded a 97-run-lead. Despite having a good chance to set a competitive total for the Aussies, three poor decisions against Cheteshwar Pujara, Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin, hurt India badly. They managed a second innings total of 224. Dhoni was given out lbw for a duck even when he was a long way down the wicket. That was a major blow for the visitors, who were looking for the captain to fire after the top-order failed. Australia registered a four-wicket victory and took an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

© AP Photo

Master Blaster the victim in his 199th Test

Sachin Tendulkar has been the victim of such poor umpiring numerous times in his glittering career. However, the Master Blaster always exuded grace and took the bad calls in his stride.

Playing his penultimate Test at the iconic Eden Gardens in front of emotional fans, Tendulkar suffered for the last time due to the absence of DRS. Umpire Nigel Llong silenced the entire Eden crowd when he raised his finger against the Little Man. Tendulkar, who was batting on 10, failed to read a "doosra" from West Indies spinner Shane Shillingford and the ball went on to hit Tendulkar's back leg which prompted the umpire to give him out. But replays showed that impact was too high and the ball would have missed the bails. Tendulkar, like always, walked back to a huge ovation from the Kolkata crowd. Gone was a chance to get a Test hundred at the Eden.

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India in Australia, 2007-08

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy of 2007-08, was one of the most infamous cricket series ever played. The 'Monkeygate' scandal in which Indian offspinner Harbhajan SIngh was accused of racial abuse grabbed all headlines all over the world. The series was also known for very poor standards of umpiring. The glaring mistakes perhaps acted as a catalyst for global administrators of the game to come up with technology to cover up for human errors.

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting's integrity was questioned after the Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Indians were agitated after as many as eight decisions went against them. Anil Kumble, the then skipper, boycotted the post-match presentation ceremony. Kumble questioned Australia's integrity and went on to say that only one team played within the spirit of the game.

The match's lowest point came when Ponting held his finger up to indicate to umpire Benson that Sourav Ganguly has been caught even before the third umpire pronounced his decision.

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