By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Was the wrong footage used in Sunday’s game between Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers that ended in the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar? It would seem so.
Let’s go back and look at the sequence of what exactly happened. When Tendulkar lofted Amit Mishra into the hands of long-on, the on-field umpire called on the third umpire to check whether the bowler had overstepped. This is what I observed. The first replay shown was from the stump camera. From there it wasn’t clear whether Mishra had overstepped as his foot seemed on the line. The second replay they showed was from midwicket. From that angle it looked as if his foot was on the line and there wasn’t anything behind the line. A third angle, from the covers, was considered. However, in this replay you can see Tendulkar standing in the background! My question is: How can a batsman who has faced the delivery be standing at the non-striker’s end?! More importantly, in that particular replay Amit Mishra was comfortably within the limits and hadn’t overstepped. The third umpire ruled the delivery as legal on the basis of the third replay.
Tendulkar lofts the ball towards long-off and is caught by Dale Steyn. The replays are called for. The first replay from the stump camera is inconclusive if the bowler overstepped. The second replay from midwicket suggests that the bowler’s foot is on the line and not behind the line. You can hear commentator Pommie Mbangwa surprised and saying, “Ohh, hold on...” From a third angle it’s evident that its not a no-ball looked, but what you can clearly see Tendulkar at the non- striker’s end (see photo) and not Ambati Rayadu!
The question is not whether it was a no-ball or not. In fact, that is secondary. The biggest question raised is about the broadcasters and the third umpire. It looks as if the wrong replay was shown. The third umpire would naturally look at the line and not consider the background, as he has to decide whether the bowler overstepped or not. However, shouldn’t the third umpire also exercise due care while making such decisions?
This dismissal has raised more than a question and somebody has to answer them. It’s imperative that the broadcaster has to provide the correct footage. However, should that not be the case, the third umpire has to be duly empowered.
Technology has been a fairly recent addition to the game of cricket. From the first use of the third umpire in the year 1992, we have moved towards Hawk-Eye, hot spot etc. The third umpire has become even more crucial since the inception of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS). However, one cannot rely on technology completely and the third umpire has to do his due diligence. More than that, the broadcasters have to ensure they provide the third umpire with the right footage. Clearly, after the controversial dismissal of Tendulkar, the authenticity of the TV replays will not be seen as foolproof any longer.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.")