Umpiring gaffes – to walk or not is the question

Cheteshwar Pujara had felt he could have walked in the semifinal, but Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak feels it is unfair on the team.

Cheteshwar Pujara was adjudged not out despite having nicked a seaming away delivery from Abhimanyu Mithun in the Ranji Trophy semifinal.   -  Sudhakara Jain

More than the players in the middle, the Ranji Trophy final — starting at the VCA stadium here on Sunday — will also be a pressure game for umpires Anil Chaudhary and Shamshuddin. The gaffes in the semifinal, between Karnataka and Saurashtra, had raised fingers on the quality of decision-making in domestic cricket.

Despite conclaves and meetings, the Decision Review System is still not in place. Umpiring in Ranji Trophy hit a new low when Cheteshwar Pujara got two reprieves — thanks to umpire Saiyed Khalid — against Karnataka. He went on to score a hundred and win the game for Saurashtra.

READ | Pujara, Jaffer in focus in Ranji final

In the same match, a few decisions also went against Saurashtra.

How does it affect the players? “We have decided we will not get frustrated at all. That’s our strength. We concede lead or gain lead, we will stay in the same mental state. We will get our process right and focus on the game,” Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak told Sportstar, adding why it is unfair for the batsman to walk.

“Pujara also felt he could have walked. He is an honest person. I told him it is fair if you walk, but I feel it is unfair on the team. If he was not out, and given out, opposition would have never called him back.

“At the same time, if he is out in reality, and given not out, the team will suffer if he walks. You can’t have it both ways. Nobody should walk.”

Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak defended his batsman Cheteshwar Pujara for his decision to not walk despite nicking behind in the semifinal. PHOTO: VIVEK BENDRE

 

The Karnataka bowlers had also started false appealing to put more pressure on the umpire. “He probably gave Prerak Mankad out [caught behind] being under pressure.

“Prerak has always scored against Karnataka and they were aware that was an important wicket. It was a blinder. The ball was far away from the bat,” he added.

The umpires have been checking the leg-before and caught-behind decisions with the match referee almost after every session in the Ranji games.

Reports say that earlier, match referees would award points to an umpire after every game. But it has turned into an ego tussle now.

READ | Jaydev Unadkat bats for DRS post Pujara drama

“It is unfortunate that for Karnataka, the dismissal in question was Pujara on two occasions. They got Mankad wrongly, so they had to digest a Pujara hundred,” Kotak was sharp in his assessment.

From a bowler’s point of view

Vidarbha pacer Rajneesh Gurbani seconded Kotak. Though an opponent in the final, he believes it is not right for the batsman to walk.

“When DRS is not there. I feel if the batsman is actually not out, and declared out, he still has to walk. And he can’t say he was not out. DRS can have a fair game. At least, the bowler can go back and check if it was actually out or not,” he said.