Dubai: Even as cricket fans around the world celebrated the return of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE this week, it was the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), or the apparent lack of it, that has led to the tournament’s first major controversy.
There are often talking points about the way the matches are officiated by the umpires and Sunday’s league match between Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals was no different. Two palpable umpiring errors cost Kings a possible victory in an absolute thriller that was decided by the Super Over at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
One incident happened in the 19th over of Punjab’s run-chase when on-field umpire Nitin Menon called a ‘short one’ although television replays clearly showed the run by Chris Jordan was legitimate.
Punjab co-owners Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia have reacted strongly and called on the BCCI to improve the standard of umpiring in the tournament. “It is exceedingly unfortunate that today with tremendous use of technology, we still do not use technology to ensure the total fairness and transparency in cricket game like several other leagues across the world including EPL, NBA, etc,” Wadia said in a statement.
“The VAR (video assistant referee) has become something which is used across the world. The game in question between Kings XI and Delhi had two umpiring mistakes which cost KXIP the game.”
If that one ‘short run’ was credited to their total, Punjab would have won the match with three balls to spare and not led to the Super Over, which they lost.
“I do hope that BCCI implements a system and process so that the other teams do not suffer the same plight as Kings XI did,: Waida added. “If technology is not to be used for the fairness and transparency of the game and to ensure that it is equitable to all, then why use technology at all?”
Pretty Zinta, who watched the match live in Dubai, took to twitter to reveal her frustrations on the umpiring controversy. “I travelled enthusiastically during a pandemic,did 6 days of Quarantine and 5 covid tests with a smile but that one Short Run hit me hard. What’s the point of technology if it cannot be used? It’s time BCCI introduces new rules.This cannot happen every year,” tweeted Zinta.
“I’ve always believed in being graceful in a win or loss & in the spirit of the game but it’s also important to ask for policy changes that improve the game in the future for everyone. The past has happened and it’s imp to move on. So Looking ahead & being positive as always,” she added.
Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag had a different take in his tweet: “I don’t agree with the man of the match choice . The umpire who gave this short run should have been man of the match.”