Shikhar Dhawan scored a century, but was given a life by the umpire when he was misjudged not out on 79 © AFP (File Photo)
Shikhar Dhawan scored a century, but was given a life by the umpire when he was misjudged not out on 79 © AFP (File Photo)

The Decision Referral System (DRS) though not impeccable has undoubtedly worked it’s magic in making the game more error-free and thus improving viewer experience in general. However, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) continues to remain opposed to the system. Sometimes to accept the technology backfires and hurts Indian players themselves and at other times, it hurts the oppositions. During India’s first Test against Sri Lanka, the hosts were at the receiving end of BCCI‘s shun to technological assistance and further added to their misery. Rishad D’Souza probes further into the subject.

The game began with a lot of anticipation since it was a legend’s penultimate Test match. Things looked bright for the visitors’ right from the first over. Ishant Sharma was bowling particularly well and the openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva looked unsettled against his rejuvenated pace and natural extra bounce. Live Updates: India vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test at Galle, Day 2

It didn’t take long before Karunaratne succumbed to a short ball from Ishant and the tone was set for the game. Taking cue from Ishant, Varun Aaron also chose to pepper the batsmen with short bowling and then it came. Aaron aimed the short ball at Silva’s head, Silva wanted to make a statement with an aggressive shot. He went for the hook, mistimed and hooked. The Sri Lankan fans were unimpressed. ALSO READ: Tharindu Kaushal must be given a longer run for Sri Lanka’s benefit

Silva didn’t look happy and he even looked helpless. Slow motion replays revealed why; the ball had taken lobbed up after hitting the arm guard and was nowhere close to the glove or bat. As much as Silva would have liked to call for the DRS, he was bound by the BCCI against it. He stood in agony for a few minutes before coming to terms with fate and walking off, a howler had been committed and the batsman’s innings came to an unjust end.

Sri Lanka never really recovered. Apart from skipper Angelo Mathews who scored in his sixties everyone else got out without a fight. Sri Lanka were skittled for just 183. Nothing should be taken away from the way the Indians bowled, they were the undisputed champs of that innings and in most likeliness Silva would not have contributed a lot more anyway. But, one can only speculate. A Sri Lankan fan will feel robbed that possibility of a big knock and a resulting big team score was impeded by an erroneous decision and BCCI’s stand against the DRS. Live Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka 2015, 1st Test at Galle, Day 2

But one must move on. Putting too much weight on one bad decision is a disservice to the game itself. Let’s cut to Day Two. Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan had finished with solid overnight scores after KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma failed. Both, Kohli and Dhawan, looked impeccable at the crease. They timed the ball well, were patient and opportunistic. For a long time it looked impossible for the Sri Lankans to make a breakthrough. Dhawan cruised past his fifty and Kohli followed soon afterwards with little trouble.

Then it came (again), with Dhawan batting in his late 70s, Tharindu Kaushal had the ball. Kaushal hadn’t looked threatening until that point but suddenly produced a beauty from nowhere. Bowling from round the wicket to the left hander, he pitched on the leg stump line on a good length and there was sharp turn on it. Dhawan missed and the ball bumped against his pad. Kaushal knew there was something, he appealed hard, loud and long, almost pleading knowing he didn’t have the referral. The umpire said no and it stood that way.

Any speculation that it had pitched outside leg ended when the slow motion replays with the stump line marker were shown. The ball had pitched well within line of leg stump and it straightened enough to have crashed into the leg and middle stump, had it not been for Dhawan’s pad. It should have been out but Sri Lanka were denied yet again. Dhawan went on to score about 40 more runs after that which were extremely valuable under the context.

Sri Lanka were at the receiving end of two wrong decisions in the game. BCCI’s reluctance to have the DRS cost them quite heavily. That is not to say that they were not up to the mark on the first two days of play and most probably (estimated speculation) would have been underdogs after Day Two. Nonetheless, two wrong decisions were made and the viewer along with Sri Lanka was robbed off fair cricket.

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)