‘Controversy’ has been the flavour of this India vs Windies ODIs and in the third ODI in Cuttack, KL Rahul and the umpire gave a talking point that’ll be discussed for days to come. Rahul pulled out from his shot after the ball passed his bat and the umpire, outrageously, signalled a ‘dead-ball’.
Ever since the first ODI in Chennai, where the umpires ruled Ravindra Jadeja out by referring to the TV umpire after seeing big-screen replays, umpiring has been under the scanner, with each and every move of the on-field officials being scrutinized by fans, former cricketers and experts alike. And after luckily evading any sort of controversy in the second ODI in Vizag, the umpires, unfortunately, in the third ODI in Cuttack, sparked debate with yet another controversial decision, albeit this one not affecting either team.
In their quest of chasing 316, India, thanks to both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, got off to a flying start, racing off to 47/0 in their first 8 overs. Skipper Kieron Pollard put the responsibility on the shoulder of Keemo Paul, who was about to bowl his second over, to break the partnership, and in an attempt to do so, the right-armer steamed in towards a well-set Rahul in the 9th over the Indian chase.
And after Paul delivered the ball - a good length delivery just outside leg-stump as the batsman had made room for himself to hit the ball - Rahul bizarrely pulled out in the very last moment. Rahul’s pull-out was so late that by the time he decided to withdraw, the ball had almost passed his bat, with him having offered a half-hearted forward defence of sorts. And as the Indian opener explained his actions and pleaded the on-field umpire Nitin Menon to signal it a dead-ball, the umpire obliged and bafflingly signalled it a dead-ball.
The signal from the umpire infuriated Pollard and the whole West Indies camp, who believed that Rahul had already offered a shot and was way too late in pulling out from it. The commentator, Sunil Gavaskar, too, took the side of the Windies, lambasting the umpire for signalling it a no-ball. After altercation for 20-25 seconds, skipper Pollard seemed to cool down and after a word with both the umpire and Rohit Sharma, let it go, giving Menon a cheeky tap on the shoulder.
Sure, the incident did not blow up as the ball missed the stumps, but one wonders what the reaction of the Windies - and subsequently India - would have been, had the ball crashed on to the stumps. Ian Bishop revealed that the DJ playing music had thrown Rahul off guard, forcing him to pull away in the last moment, but then again, how late can a batsman pull away from a shot is a question that needs to be asked.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the incident:
Kl Rahul gully cricket moment...😂😂 had if the ball taken the nails off..then? #INDvsWI— prudhvirajk (@rajvinay77) December 22, 2019
@irbishi kL rahul moving due to an announcement at the ground as the bowler started bowling and he got distracted— Alok Deshpande (@alok_de) December 22, 2019
I've never seen that before. How can that be dead ball? KL Rahul went forward and then back to it!— cricketingview (@cricketingview) December 22, 2019
Surely that was too late for KL Rahul to back way from the stumps? Plus, he played at it! Ally that to several missed wides, and umpires Nitin Menon and Shaun George haven't had the best of days.#INDvWI🏏🇮🇳🌴— Guerilla Cricket (@guerillacricket) December 22, 2019
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