During the final over of Delhi Capitals’ innings against the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, a lot of drama ensued on the field that saw skipper Rishabh Pant gesturing his batters to return and even sending in batting coach Pravin Amre to have a chat with the umpires.
The final over began with the equation of 36 runs needed. Surely improbable, right? But Rovman Powell then blasted two sixes in a row against Obed McCoy. There was an air of tension building around the field.
However, the third delivery resulted in a moment that will be talked about for a while. It was a full toss that Powell pulled for a six and immediately it appeared to be a close call for a no ball. It was a hip-high full-toss, but was it going to dip below the batter’s waist at an upright position? Although the six was called, DC were hoping for a no-ball for height as well. Had it been called a no-ball, it would have reduced one run from the equation and a free hit would have been awarded.
The no ball ruling for height, for a quick reminder, reads like this: “Any delivery, which passes or would have passed, without pitching, above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease, is to be deemed to be unfair.”
Now, it has always been one of the most subjective calls in cricket that has caused controversies over and over. As per current playing conditions, it is not something that can be reviewed by umpires as a wicket did not fall of that delivery.
Since no signal was given by on-field umpires, Nitin Menon and Nikhil Patwardhan, it led to them being questioned by both Powell and Kuldeep. And what followed was an animated DC dug-out with Pant asking the batters to return to the dug-out and essentially, walk out of the game. Eventually, Pravin Amre ran to the umpires to present Delhi’s case but play resumed only after the flaring tempers were calmed down. RR, then, won by 15 runs after McCoy successfully defended the total in the remaining three deliveries.
On Saturday, sanctions were imposed on Pant, Amre and Shardul Thakur for breach of Code of Conduct during the game at Wankhede. According an IPL media release, Pant was fined 100% of his match fee, coach Amre was fined 100% of his match fee and handed a one-match ban and Thakur was fined 50% of his match fee.
For starters, the umpires on the field had no provision to refer this upstairs as per existing rules. According to the umpire review clause in the IPL playing conditions, a referral can be made only in the following situations:
- Run Out, Stumped, Bowled and Hit wicket decisions
- Caught decisions, Obstructing the field
- Boundary decisions
- Batters running to the same end
- No balls (specifically, it refers only to the feet-check carried out every delivery, see image below)
- No ball checks following a dismissal (this is where the height check would come in, where third umpire “shall check all modes of No ball except for the bowler using an Illegal Bowling Action”)
- Cameras on or over the field of play
The Umpire Review clause in the playing conditions lists only these areas for use of referral:
So while common sense suggests that such a crucial moment in a match should at least be reviewed, the protocols in place don’t allow for that to happen when a batter is not dismissed. It is surely something that is worth a revision in rules, but once the no ball was not called on field, there was no way DC camp were getting what they wanted.
Whether it was a no ball itself or not, it is hard to say as mentioned above given the subjective nature of this call. But with technology like ball-tracking available, maybe the day of using that to determine trajectory is not far away.
Here’s a look at who said what after the match and some more reactions:
After the end of the match, Pant in the post-match ceremony said, “I thought that no-ball could have been precious for us but it is not in my control.”
“Disappointed but can’t do much about it. Everyone was frustrated (in the dugout) that it was not even close, everyone in the ground saw that, I think the third umpire should have interfered and said it was a no-ball,” he said.
He, too, admitted that the coach Pravin Amre’s involvement on the field was not a good idea.
“Obviously, it wasn’t right (sending Amre onto the field) but what happened with us is also not right, it happened in the heat of the moment. It was the fault from both sides and it is disappointing as we have seen some good umpiring in the tournament,” said Pant.
Watch Pant’s interview here.
Meanwhile, the Royals’ skipper did not delve too much into the details of what panned out in the final over and brushed aside the matter explaining it very simplistically, “It went for a six, it was a full toss and the umpire gave it a normal ball. But the batter wanted it as a no-ball. I think the umpire made his decision very clear and stuck to it.”
Plain and simple response to a situation that he didn’t have much to do with.
Meanwhile, DC’s assistant coach Shane Watson stated in the post-match press conference that the umpire’s decision must be “accepted.”
“It was very disappointing what happened in that last over. Unfortunately, we were in that position in the game where we were not able to put things together long enough throughout that game. And look, in the end, what we at the Delhi Capitals don’t stand for, is what happened. The umpire’s decision whether it’s right or wrong, we have to accept it. And someone running on the field is certainly... we can’t accept and well it’s not good enough,” said Watson.
Watson was also of the opinion that the stoppage in play before the final three deliveries were bowled gave RR a chance to better their bowling strategy in the final over.
“There is no question when there is a big stoppage in play like that, it can change the momentum,” Watson said. “It gave McCoy a little bit of time to regroup as well. That stoppage did play into Rajasthan Royals’ hands. It was an unfortunate stoppage. In the end, the thing is you got to accept the umpires’ decision no matter what it is - whether it is a good one or not so good one. You have just got to get on with the game.”
“We are always taught as youngsters all the way through that we have got to accept the umpires’ decision. That’s what we should have done,” he added.
RR’s Director of Cricket in post-match press conference also spoke about the issue but maintained that the umpire’s decision is binding.
“It is umpires that control the game,” he said. “I know the IPL has a lot of pressure, lot of tension and things can go either way. I don’t think I can really dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not.”
Here are some reactions from Twitter after the drama that ensued on-field and the sanctions that followed:
It also led some to wonder if “Decision Review System” should actually be used to review any umpiring decisions as the name suggests instead of just dismissals.