Soon after taking over as Test captain, Virat Kohli said he is open to a rethink on the controversial Decision Review System (DRS). Unlike his predecessors, he is not looking for a fool-proof application — he is happy with the one in force.
The Test captain before him, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who continues as the skipper of the limited-overs side, is still unconvinced about its veracity.
Now the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has to take a decision and the International Cricket Council (ICC) is keen that India uses DRS during the upcoming home series against England.
An ICC official and a technical expert from ball-tracking company Hawk-Eye will soon be in the country to try and convince the board to fall in line with other boards which have accepted the system with all its shortcomings.
Kohli, perhaps, is of the opinion that if it is good for other teams why not for India in deciding bat-pad catches and leg-before decisions. As it is, the umpires still go to the third umpire for decisions on run out, stumping, no-ball and whether a fielder stopped the boundary balls cleanly or caught them without coming in contact with the rope.
It took Kohli to come around after losing two Tests which India could have won if only the DRS was available to them, though he refused to make the terrible umpiring decisions an excuse for the defeats and blamed it on the side’s awful batting.
If DRS had been there in operation, Kohli could have won his debut Test as captain in Adelaide. During his next series in Bangladesh, he made a case for the system before they were done in by two umpiring decisions at a critical stage.
India’s aversion to DRS ironically is the result of their bitter experience in their 2008 series in Sri Lanka when they were not convinced that Hawk-Eye’s ball-tracking device was trustworthy. Anil Kumble, now the India coach, was furious after his DRS appeals were rejected.
Two decisions in Adelaide could have made a big difference to the outcome of the Test if they had gone rightfully India’s way. They would have won instead of losing narrowly and add to its disappointment there were a couple of other decisions that went against them in the series.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan was given out caught behind when the ball brushed his shoulder and not the bat and soon Rahane got the rough end of the decision when he was adjudged caught bat-pad when the ball clearly missed the bat.
India lost the high-scoring first Test by a mere 48 runs and, when asked about India’s reluctance to have DRS, Kohli hummed the old number that the system has to be one hundred percent foolproof for his team to accept it.
The leg-before rule to overturn the on-field umpires decision has been revised twice in the last four years and the latest change, which came into effect on October 1, benefits the bowlers more as more batsmen will be given out once they go upstairs for revision.
India would not have lost the first Test in Sri Lanka last year if the DRS had been in operation. Game-changers for the island nation, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimane, should have gone very early in their innings.
Chandimal grabbed the opportunity to hit a cracking match-winning hundred. Worse, in all, there were six decisions which would have been overturned by the third umpire in the Test.
By adopting the DRS, India will at least have level-playing field in international cricket. Now that the ICC wants to make sure that all countries have access to the system, India cannot say it is flawed and Zimbabwe plead that the technology is too expensive.
The ICC will oversee the implementation of the DRS and will also upgrade technology to improve the system so there is uniformity in its application.
The Indian team management as well as the board have at last realised that they can’t keep DRS away for long and it should be in operation in the India-England series next month.
There can’t be a better place than India to test the system with bat-pad coming into play more often than anywhere else.
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)