Indian captain Virat Kohli voiced his displeasure with the ‘soft signal’ rule after India beat England by eight runs in the fourth T20 International on Thursday to level the five-match series 2-2. There were two instances in the match that brought plenty of attention to this oft-criticised rule in cricket.

Suryakumar Yadav, who made a superb first half-century in international cricket, was caught by Dawid Malan but the decision was taken upstairs and the soft signal was out. The third umpire then gave him out as well despite replays suggesting the ball might’ve touched the ground as Malan tried to complete the catch. But because there was no conclusive evidence according to the third umpire, he couldn’t overturn the on-field umpire’s decision.

Saikat Das / Sportzpics for BCCI

Then, Washington Sundar’s dismissal raised eyebrows too as he was caught by Adil Rashid at the third-man boundary. Replays suggested that the leg-spinner’s heel might’ve been touching the rope as he caught the ball but because the soft signal was out, the third umpire didn’t overturn the decision.

In the post-match presentation ceremony, Kohli was asked by Murali Kartik about these two decision and the skipper didn’t mince his words.

Here’s what he said:

“Look, there was that instance that happened during the Test series where I was next to Jinks [Ajinkya Rahane] when he clearly caught the ball, but then I wasn’t sure and I asked Jinks, he wasn’t sure. And then we went up straightaway. If it’s a half-and-half effort and the fielder’s in doubt, I don’t think the umpire from square leg would see that clearly and, you know, make a conclusive call. So the soft signal becomes that much more important and it’s a tricky one. I don’t know why there cannot be a sort of “I don’t know” call for the umpire as well. Why does it have to be a conclusive one? Because then that [dictates] the whole decision completely. Similar to the argument we have about umpire’s call as well.

“I think these are some things that can really, really change the whole course of the game, especially in a big game. We are on the other side [of the result], but there could be another team bearing the brunt of this. So you want these things ironed out as much as possible, keep this game simple, keep it linear, have one set of rules which are not grey areas which we don’t understand sometimes, and sometimes we do. So it’s not ideal, especially in a high-pressure game which has a lot of things riding on it, a lot at stake. It’s important to have a lot of clarity on the field.”

Here’s the ICC’s explanation of the soft signal rule:

“Visual communication by the bowler’s end umpire to the third umpire (accompanied by additional information via two-way radio where necessary) of his/her initial on-field decision prior to initiating an Umpire Review.”

Apart from Kohli, there were plenty of more reactions to the soft signal debate. Doing commentary for Sky Sports, India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik said: “I don’t understand this: the [on-field] umpire is not sure whether it’s taken or not [cleanly] hence he goes to the third umpire. And then why give a decision [soft signal] at all? Allow the third umpire to take the call. Another grey area of cricket along with the DRS umpire’s call – these are things always up for debate.”

Here are some more reactions: