If you are a fan of Star Trek, you would be familiar with Kobayashi Maru. It is a training exercise for the Starfleet cadets in the fictional universe. It is, in essence, a no-win scenario. Those who take the test know there is no succeeding in the scenarios facing them and all they can do is hope for taking the least worse decision.
At various points during England’s all-format tour of India, it felt like umpire Nitin Menon was a real-life example of that situation. Captains from both sides kept trying to crack the code but came up short time and again. As we saw on the final day of action, Menon simply was in a zone that we usually associate with athletes. A purple patch where the technology was merely agreeing with whatever decision he was taking and challenging it felt futile.
The best of such moments came in Krunal Pandya’s over against Dawid Malan, when the left-hander missed one that turned. The appeal was vociferous. Virat Kohli opted for the review. The replays from the first to the penultimate suggested Malan was a goner. But the final replay, the one that mattered, showed that the ball was missing the stumps. The Indian players were stunned but Menon was — once again — proven right by the technology.
The Indian cricket team completed one of its best four-month spells across formats, pipping England by a mere seven runs after surviving Sam Curran’s determined assault in an edge-of-the seat third and final ODI for a well-deserved hat-trick of series victories.
The 37-year-old Menon had been included in the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires for the season 2020-’21, the third from the country to do so after Srinivas Venkatraghavan and Sundaram Ravi. And with ICC deciding to have only home umpires as part of the Covid-19-related regulations, Menon emerged from the series with great credit to his name.
Here are some reactions to how well he performed on Sunday in Pune: