Answer by Yedu Krishnan:
Let's touch up on why India refuses to use DRS. This is a long story, which started in a sultry night in Bangalore in 2011.
It was the Cricket World Cup and India were playing England in Bangalore. India had set England a target of 339 on a flat pitch and England were well on their way. At the end of the 17th over, England were 112/2 with Strauss and the new man Ian Bell on strike. A wicket here would expose the wobbly English middle order and India would have the upper hand.
6 overs later, Bell was on 17 from 18. World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh had the ball and he slipped in an armer. Bell knelt to sweep, and was hit in front of the line. India appealed – NOT OUT. India reviewed. The replays came up, pitched in line, hitting in line, hitting the stumps. OUT, right?
But the decision remained NOT OUT. The reason given was that Bell was too far down the track to be given out – more than 2.5m to be precise. India were disgruntled and lost their handle on the match. It was only a late spark by Zaheer Khan that brought the match to a tie. India tried to make sense of the new rule that had suddenly sprout up, but there was nothing they could do.
A few days later, New Zealand played Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad. In the first innings, Daniel Vettori bowled a regular offspinner to Elton Chugumbura who was struck in front. He was given OUT. Chigumbura reviewed it, and according to the Hawkeye, the batsman was 2.5m forward while he hit the ball. So by default, it had to be NOT OUT, right?
The umpire stayed with his onfield decision of OUT. Zimbabwe were left stunned. The cricket world was taken by storm over inconsistent umpiring. The ICC managed to tweak a few rules and satisfy the personnel, but the explanation they had were quite astounding. The ICC claimed that the Hawkeye was unpredictable if the batsman had stepped out 2.5m from the crease. MS Dhoni went straight up and asked the ICC Chief why they set it at 2.5m – why not 2.4m or 2.6m? Again, he managed to gloss it over and keep it under wraps.
Why would you want an unpredictable system anyway? If the Hawkeye is unpredictable after 2.5m, how can you be completely sure it's predictable within 2.5m? That was precisely the question that India asked, and they demanded answers. The ICC had nothing but assurances and "expert opinions" that it was foolproof. They stood by their word that Hawkeye would never fail within 2.5m. We'll touch on this later.
When it comes to the use of DRS, it's usually split into 3 different methods – Hawkeye (also called Ball tracker), Snickometer and Hot Spot. Of the three, Hot Spot is probably the most reliable. It's done by placing two infra-red cameras on either side of the ground to check for nicks on the bat by the ball in case of catches or LBW decisions. The only problem is that the Hot Spot can only be used for series in Australia/New Zealand and/or countries that Australia tour.
The reason is simple – Hot Spot is expensive and the equipment is quite bulky. It isn't practical to lug the heavy thing all across the country and it causes more trouble than its worth. So it was decided that Hot Spot would only be used for series involving Australia.
Now does this sound fair to you? Why should Hot Spot only be limited to Australia? Sure it enhances viewer experience and it helps overturn wrong decisions, but why should Australia get the benefit of using the Hot Spot? Doesn't that offer the bowlers an unfair advantage of a higher chance of getting a decision overturned?
Snickometer can only help you so far. In case of a close bat-pad call, it's upto the umpire who has to make the final call. But in the case of Hot Spot, the umpire's have absolutely nothing to do. They just have to look for the blip and call it like they see it. So obviously a cricketer has a better advantage in Australia than anywhere else in the world because of the presence of a foolproof piece of technology. In my opinion, this kind of undermines the various series going on in the other countries. It's kind of like saying the other series are unimportant when compared to Australia's series.
That's India's second question – why isn't there a consistent use of technology throughout the cricketing world? Why is there only Hawkeye and Snicko in some places, no Hot Spot in some places, no stump mics in some places, LED bails in some places. Why the variation? If you're going to use technology in sport, use it everywhere, or use it nowhere. Technology must be used to make the sport fair, but its inconsistent use is only leading to confusion and a feeling of discord.
Now let's go back to ICC's initial statement of Hakweye never going wrong within 2.5m. In November 2014, New Zealand and Pakistan were playing a test in Dubai. Trent Boult was bowling to Shan Masood, and the batsman was struck on the pads. The ball was delivered over the wicket to the left handed batsman by a left arm bowler. It was a yorker which struck the batsman on the back leg at the base of leg stump. Masood was given out, and he reviewed the decision. The fun began.
The ball was an inswinging yorker which had missed the front leg and hit the batsman on the back leg in front of leg stump. If the ball had gone the same way, it would have missed the stumps entirely, or at the worst case, just kissed the outer half of leg stump. The Hawkeye was in motion.
Surprise surprise. The ball which was a full toss on leg stump at yorker length, miraculously swung in the air and hit middle and leg. Wasim Akram would have been proud of that ball. That should have been the ball of the century. A left arm seamer bowling a batsman around his legs. Shan Masood was given out and Pakistan lost the test. Watch the video for the exact replay. (Skip the first couple of minutes.)
Later, DRS officials admitted that Hawkeye made a mistake with the ball tracking, and that it was the fault of the technology. And lo and behold, the legendary unstoppable Hawkeye which never failed had made an error which led to Pakistan's loss.
Now just imagine if this were a World Cup final. It's a sticky position, and something like this happens. A laughable decision gets upheld and a team loses because the technology isn't fair. Would that be fair to the team at the receiving end? It wouldn't – which is why India wants a complete rehash of the entire technology and make it foolproof.
Saying that India doesn't like the DRS because they don't understand it is laughable. India was the only country to get all reviews right in the Champions Trophy 2013. India just wants the DRS to be fair to everyone (mainly itself) and consistent use everywhere.
India could sit back and use DRS like everyone else, pretending that mistakes happen and you've just got to run with it, but they decided to choose what is right instead of what is easy. They're right too.
It's very unlikely that India fixed the Galle test. They lost because of Chandimal's counter-attacking and a bit of poor captaincy from Kohli. There was a similar match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at Galle a year ago, where Pakistan collapsed to 180 after making 451 in the first innings. The Galle pitch is just like that – slow and skiddy, which makes it easy for Herath to get his armers in.
India lost because of lack of application, poor team selection and inability to take out Sri Lanka's lower-middle order. The latter reason was evident in many series before this one – there were many matches where India took out the first five wickets, but couldn't dismiss numbers 6,7 and 8. A notable example is the second test in New Zealand.
India are not anti-DRS. They just want it to be fair.
Thanks for A2A!
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