BANGALORE, February 28 – India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit out at the controversial Umpire Decision Review System (URDS) after a key decision went against his side in their dramatic World Cup tie with England.
England, replying to India’s 338 all out after Sachin Tendulkar’s record-breaking fifth hundred in World Cup cricket, finished on 338 for eight following a magnificent career-best 158 from captain Andrew Strauss.
Left-handed opener Strauss shared a vital third-wicket partnership of 170 with Ian Bell (69).
But their stand was worth just 52 when left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh thought he had Bell lbw on review for 17, with replays showing the ball would have hit the stumps.
Bell had started to walk off but because New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden’s verdict was not out, the decision was returned to him by Australian replay official Rod Tucker and the Kiwi deemed Bell to be too far down the pitch.
However, a capacity crowd of mainly passionate India fans were left bemused having seen Bell ‘dismissed’ on the Chinnaswamy Stadium’s giant replay screens.
Bell himself clearly thought he was out, walking off the pitch before his clearly unexpected reprieve and Dhoni too couldn’t understand why he was allowed to continue his innings.
India have stood alone amongst major nations in refusing to use UDRS in Tests after getting on the wrong side of the system during a series away to Sri Lanka in 2008 where several reviews went against them.
"The adulteration of technology with human thinking meant we didn’t get that (Bell) wicket," said Dhoni.
He was unhappy with the instruction to umpires at this World Cup that says if a batsman is more than 2.5 metres down the pitch he should be given not out, unless the ball would have hit middle stump.
It was not certain if Bell’s middle stump would have been knocked over but Dhoni said: "If Hawkeye says it’s good and going to hit middle stump, I see no reason why the distance matters.
"Simon (Taufel) once gave me out (like that) in the Champions Trophy. If I can be given out, why not any other batsman? It is pretty difficult for me, what I saw was ball hitting the stumps."
Dhoni praised left-arm quick Zaheer Khan for a burst of three wickets for one run in six balls, including two in two to get rid of Bell and Strauss, that swung the match back India’s way when England were on course for victory.
"Well you know the way they were going, I think they got off to a very good start, I think Andrew (Strauss) batted really well. There was a time I think where it seemed they were going to chase the score in 48, 49 overs," he said.
He added: "We could not win the match, but England too could not finish the game, both teams were facing defeat or victory at some point."
England needed 14 off the last over, from seamer Munaf Patel, but managed just 13 despite a third ball six from tailender Ajmal Shahzad.
But Dhoni said it was India’s fielding, long their Achilles heel, that had cost them a second victory of this tournament to set alongside their 87-run opening win over fellow co-hosts Bangladesh.
"We could have fielded better. With this tie, everyone in the team will realise that even one run is important," said the captain.