Pakistan have been out played in these two test matches. That is what one may think when looking at the score card. They have batted timidly and their bowling hasn’t been aggressive enough to blow South African away. It has been abysmal.
However, on closer inspection there have been moments which have gone against Pakistan. Usually, those instances are of dropped catches. But in this series, there have been only a couple of dropped catches. Rather it has been 3rd umpire’s calls which have now twice blunted Pakistan progress.
Chasing 150 odd runs, Dean Elgar’s got a reprieve and a surprising one at that when the 3rd umpire ruled that the ball had touched the ground. South Africa would have been under pressure, had that decision gone in favour of Pakistan. As it happened, they made it with relative ease.
Again yesterday, when Abbas was able to take advantage of a crumbling South African pitch, and removed Amla, the Proteas were under pressure. Temba Bavuma got another chance with South Africa still 21 runs short of Pakistan’s total. As it happened, Bavuma, knitted a match defining partnership with the captain.
In both instances, umpires’ soft signal was ignored. Did the umpire have clear evidence that the ball had touched to ground? Not according to the commentators and the Pakistan team management. With the camera angles, it is impossible to be a 100% sure if the fingers are underneath the ball or the bat has been grassed. This is why the umpire’s signal is vitally important.
But, it seemed that the pendulum had swung the other way with both these calls. The 3rd umpire perhaps looked at it and guessed that the ball had touched the ground. What is the point of having a soft signal, if they are overlooked? Both calls were made on guess work. Is this how the law is being applied now? If the 3rd umpire’s call supersedes the on ground umpire’s call, why have umpires calls with the DRS?
While, Pakistan have been 2nd best most of the time, they have had to bear bad luck or as some would call it bad umpiring. ICC needs to clarify what the law actually is. But for now, Pakistan have been at the hard end of two iffy calls, in what already was a terribly difficult series.