Poor umpiring standards and the absence of technology to aid match officials in knockout matches in Indian domestic cricket were back in focus after Cheteshwar Pujara was adjudged not out despite having nicked a seaming away delivery from Abhimanyu Mithun in the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Karnataka and Saurashtra on Friday.
The incident took place shortly after the lunch break on the second day, and came during a probing spell of fast bowling from Mithun and Ronit More. Saurashtra were 64 for 2, trailing by 211 runs, when Mithun went wide of the crease on the last ball of the 23rd over. The line and movement of the delivery opened Pujara up, and there was a noise as the ball seemed to have kissed his left thumb on the way to settling into the gloves of wicketkeeper S Sharath.
Mithun and the entire Karnataka team leapt and screamed in joyous relief thinking they had got rid of the most dangerous opposition batsman. To their visible shock and dismay, umpire Saiyed Khalid disagreed. Pujara stood his ground marking his guard even as Karnataka captain Manish Pandey pleaded with the umpire.
Pujara had made just one run at that stage off 18 deliveries. The Karnataka players carried on remonstrating with the officials, and some of them even seemed to tell Pujara he should walk.
Incidentally, Pujara turned 31 on the day. However, he couldn’t make the unexpected gift count and Mithun had his man eventually. Mithun bowled a half-tracker and Pujara attempted a pull shot. However, the ball did not bounce as much as he expected and Pujara top-edged the ball for Mithun to pouch an easy return catch, sending Pujara back for 45.
While the missed caught-behind didn’t cost Karnataka too much in terms of runs, the decision called into question the umpiring in domestic cricket and the lack of technological help for them, especially in crucial games. This followed from the quarter-final between Karnataka and Rajasthan, where too there were a number of contentious decisions.
More to follow