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Third umpire should be independent of on-field umpires
On Thursday, New Zealand beat India by a small margin of 6 runs in the second one day played at Firoz Shah Kotla, New Delhi to square the series one all. Kudos to the Black Caps for defending a low total of 242/9 in 50 overs. The match was a see-saw battle till the end.
At the start of Indian innings, India was firm favorite to overhaul the target. But at 73/4 with the top four batsmen back to pavilion, a useful partnership of 66 runs between Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav brought India back in the game. But when Jadhav got out, the match was evenly poised. Dhoni added another 33 runs with Axar Patel. But then three wickets fell in quick succession (Dhoni, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra) and India was reduced to 183 for 8. It was left to Hardik Pandya and Umesh Yadav to salvage a win and they did not disappoint either.

A fruitful 49 runs 9th wicket partnership took India close to the total and eventually Pandya got out while playing an aggressive shot to Trent Boult. Bumrah could not give support to Umesh and India were all out for 236 in the 50th over handing a well-deserved win to the Kiwis.

This is the first win New Zealand could muster during this tour of India. After a 3-0 white wash in test series, this win will do a world of good to the fading confidence of the Kiwi players. With three more matches to be played, the ODI series is very much alive and a close contest is on the cards.

I want to highlight a judgment error by the umpires. When Ajinkya Rahane pulled a bouncer from Tim Southee, the ball ballooned into the air. A running Corey Anderson eventually had to dive to take the catch at deep fine leg. But instead of claiming the catch, Anderson suggested that he was not sure whether he took the catch cleanly. So, naturally it was referred to the third umpire by the on-field umpires with a soft signal that they considered it as a clean catch.

The TV replay was totally inconclusive whether it was a clean catch. The ball appeared to bounce from the turf, but again there was no conclusive evidence in this regard. In the absence of a soft signal, the third umpire would have given the benefit of doubt to the batsman. But since the soft signal was 'out', the third umpire had to find conclusive evidence to overturn the decision. In the end, the decision of on-field umpires stayed put and Rahane had to take the long way back to the pavilion.

My point is how can the on-field umpires be sure about the catch? The main umpire was at least 60 meters away from the point where the catch was taken. The fielder himself was not sure about it and so he never claimed the catch. TV replays also casted enough doubts about it. What happened to the age old cricket dictum which says 'benefit of doubt should go the batsman'?

Rahane's ouster might not be reason why India lost the match. But this does raise an important question about the role of third umpire who has technology at his disposal to make correct decision. The soft signal by the on-field umpires is absolutely unnecessary.

In the DRS (Decision Review System), when someone challenges the LBW decision by on-field umpire, the third umpire uses technology to assess the correctness of the decision. In doubtful cases when the Hawk-Eye shows ball hitting the top of stump or kissing the side of the stump, the on-field umpire's call is never overturned as the umpire is at the best position to judge whether the ball was hitting the stumps. But this is not the case when a catch is taken at the outfield close to the boundary. Unless someone has the vision of an eagle, he cannot conclusively say that a diving catch is taken cleanly. As far as my knowledge goes, none of the on-field umpires has that sharp vision.

India does not prefer to use DRS as even with technology wrong decisions are taken. ICC should look into it to change the method of decision making. TV replays and third umpire are for making right decision, not upholding a wrong decision.

According to my view, when third umpire is referred leave the decision to him without any signal from the on-field umpires. The technology is such that a correct decision can be made by TV replays. If there is still doubt, then give the benefit to the batsman.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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