Hey, what about my runs? © Getty Images
Hey, what about my runs? © Getty Images

Once again it is a match between teams A and B. This time it is a 50-over match. The match got underway despite threats of heavy rain looming.

Team A batted first. They lost two quick wickets. Then Smith and Khan got their runs quickly for the third wicket. They eventually reached 113 for 2 after 20 overs (obviously, the numbers are selected randomly).

Singh began the 21st over. He overstepped. ‘No-ball’, yelled the umpire, stretching his right hand as per norm. Smith had a huge heave, connected, and they ran two.

It was obviously a free hit. Singh could not change his fielders, for Smith was back on strike. The crowd cheered, the commentator’s voice drowned that… Singh ran in…

But he never delivered the ball, for the umpire stopped him on the track. It was already pelting down the ground. There was no doubt that play could not go on anymore. The umpires signalled towards the groundsmen, and everyone left.

It continued to rain. Things first reached the pre-decided cut-off for deduction in overs. The super-soppers came out to hurry things up. The crowd grew impatient, booing every time the umpires refused to begin the match.

Thankfully, A had already batted past the stipulated 20 overs. In fact, they had batted exactly 20 overs, and had scored 116 for 2. They rummaged through the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern charts. The target was obtained easily: it was, after all, the direct output of a formula where the input parameters are provided.

There was, however, a catch, as the captain of team A pointed out. Given that the last ball bowled before the rainbreak was a no-ball, team A were entitled to a free hit. Calculating the target based on 116 would be unfair, they claimed. A free hit could have given them a maximum of 6 runs(add wides, no-balls, etc to that).

Was the ball complete if the free-hit ball was not bowled?

Should the target be calculated based on 116 for 2 from 20 overs?Would that not be unfair on team A, since they had the opportunity to score up to 6 more runs with the addition of a solitary delivery?

Team B, of course, counter-argued. What if they bowled a dot ball? The target, then, would be calculated on 116 for 2 from 20.1 overs. And in case they got a wicket (they could run a batsman out), it would become 116 for 3, shifting the balance towards Team B even more.

Calculating based on 116 for 2 after 20 overs seems the obvious thing to do.But, is a ball actually considered ‘complete’ if a no-ball is not followed by a free hit?

What would you have done?