Umpires in the act

It was quite an eventful day (DLF Cup - Ind Vs Aus, Game 6) for the umpires today at the Kinrara Oval. There were some very good decisions (and reversions) and also some really ordinary mistakes on display. Here is a brief analysis of all those action sequences.

Scene 1: Australia 99/5, second ball of the 26th over
Action: Hussey turns an innocuous Harbhajan delivery to the vacant area on the leg side. Batsmen complete the first run and then attempt a suicidal second. Haddin is well short of the crease when Bhajji whips the bails off. Umpire Benson rules the batsman OUT and Haddin starts walking to the pavilion. But some secondary instinct tells Benson to refer the decision to the third umpire and the replays suggest that Harbhajan might not have whipped the bails cleanly with the ball in hand. Haddin gets a call back and he ends up making the Indians pay dearly.
Comments: In the context of the match, this was a big moment. If not for Haddin's knock and his partnership with Hogg, Australia would have struggled to reach 170-180. But what Benson did was absolutely the right thing to do. Umpires should not hesitate to doubt their own decisions.

Scene 2: India 6/0, second ball of the second over
Action: McGrath bangs one short, Tendulkar goes for the pull, ball hits the batsman's shoulder on its way to the Keeper's gloves. The Keeper and the slip-fielders appeal while the bowler throws in a half-hearted plea. Benson raises his finger. Tendulkar puts on a stunned look and starts walking. Benson consults Asad and then in to everyone's surprise, reverts his decision and calls Sachin back. Ricky Ponting starts losing it and tells the umpire that it is a huge disgrace.
Comments: It isn't always that Umpires reverse their decisions. But to do it twice in the same match requires a fair bit of courage and a great deal of character. Mark Benson should be commended again for what he did. He looked a bit silly in the end, but what really matters is that he got the decision right. Having said that, he should probably learn to take his time to analyze the appeal first and then raise his finger, instead of first raising the finger and then analyzing the appeal. It would be interesting to see what sort of action is taken on Ponting. He has already gotten into trouble twice this year arguing with the umpires. His next offence guarantees a ban. Luckily for Australia, Tendulkar did not last long, he fell in the very next over.

Scene 3: India 147/5, last ball of the 34th over
Action: Mongia tries to sweep a Hogg delivery, ball gets wrapped on the pads and trickles down to the leg side. Mongia goes off balance and finds himself out of the crease for a few brief moments. The Keeper, Haddin is quick to notice the little window of oppurtunity, picks up the ball and flicks it onto the stumps. The third umpire comes into play. The replays suggest that Mongia was clearly home. But the third umpire presses the RED button, says oops and presses the correct button again, causing a few gasps all around the ground.
Comments: Now how hard is it to press a button?

Scene 4: India 158/5, second ball of the 37th over
Action: Brett Lee over-steps by a huge margin, umpire (Asad Rauf) forgets to pay attention to the bowler's crease. Dhoni smacks it spectacularly with both feet off the ground straight down the throat of Damien Martyn, the lone fielder manning the deep extra cover boundary.
Comments: It costed India the game (and the tournament). This is not the first time that an umpire has failed to notice the over-stepping and this will not be the last. A simple solution is to make the third umpire act as a line-umpire for every delivery that is bowled. If he notices that the bowler has over-stepped and the on-field umpire has not called a no-ball, he should immediately ask the on-field umpire to signal it as a no-ball.

Scene 5: India 186/7, second ball of the 41st over
Action: Symonds bowls a fastish ball outside off, Harbhajan Singh tries to push it for a single but misses the ball completely. All the fielders around the bat go up in a vociferous appeal and to Bhajji's dismay the umpire's finger also goes up.
Comments: Harbhajan batted really well in the previous game and the chances of him guiding India home were looking really good until this unfortunate thing happened. This is another example of what a convincing vociferous appeal can do to a decent umpire like Asad Rauf, who is currently in the running for the ICC Umpire of the Year Award.

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