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Cricket news - A game of fine margins

Kohli: We are playing at the IPL level and not playing club cricket. The umpires should have had their eyes open

Lasith Malinga bowls the final delivery of the 20 overs to Shivam Dube with Royal Challengers needing a six off this final delivery to tie the scores with Mumbai Indians and force a Super Over. Dube manages only to hit it to long on and the game is over. Mumbai Indians have won a pulsating contest by six runs with a frustrated AB de Villiers left stranded at the non-striker's end on 70 not out off just 41 balls having hit four fours and six magnificent sixes.

But that shouldn't have been the end of the game and it shouldn't have been the final delivery because television replays after the ball had been hit for a single showed that Malinga had overstepped by a good inch and had committed the heinous crime of bowling a no-ball!

RCB Captain, Virat Kohli, vented his anger in the post-match press conference and he had every right to do so. Why with all the technology that cricket has at its disposal does it allow a game to be decided with the delivery of a no-ball, when television shows a global audience that the ball was illegal?

Why is it that the on-field umpires can call "no-ball" after a ball has been delivered when the fielding side discovers it has only three players inside the fielding circle and not the mandatory four?

Why couldn't the third umpire advise the on-field umpire that Malinga had overstepped and that the ball should be deemed a "no-ball" and the next ball a free hit? Furthermore, it would have had AB de Villiers (had RCB taken the single after seeing the unpire's call) facing the final (seventh) delivery. He had already smashed six sixes. What were the odds of him hitting another into the stands at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and thereby levelling the scores?

In my broadcasting career, I have witnessed Grand Slam tennis matches in which the chair umpire has authority over the line judges and make a call on the ball being out or not if he deems it as being out, or in, whatever the case might be. And Grand Slam tennis uses Hawkeye on its line calls. If the chair umpire in tennis can overrule the line judges then why can't cricket take a leaf out of tennis's book and have the third umpire overrule the on-field umpire in the case of a "no-ball?"

The IPL is the most fiercely contested Twenty20 cricket tournament in the world. The stakes are high. The margins are fine. A bowler strays two inches down the leg-side and he is penalised for bowling a wide. One of the finest exponents of fast bowling in the world bowls a "no-ball" on the final ball of the match, the entire stadium sees it, the global television audience sees it, the umpires see it (on the big screen inside the ground) and yet there is no action taken!

If Malinga had taken a wicket with his final delivery (the "no-ball") then the umpires would have gone upstairs to the Third Umpire to look at his front foot before giving the decision on the dismissal. Then everyone would have seen that Malinga had overstepped. So, if we go upstairs when a wicket is taken, why don't we go upstairs in any case? What is the reason for not checking on the legality of the delivery?

As John McEnroe might have said: "You cannot be serious!" But it was and it is. On such fine calls when the margins of legality are so small, matches are lost and the loss of points could well result in non-qualifying for the play-offs.

The technology is there on the ground. There is no hiding place for any cricketer on the ground whatever he or she is doing. The television cameras are there to show every nuance of the game of cricket in front of us. They are there to assist the umpires not to show them up.

In the cauldron of the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in which the noise was deafening and the pressure on umpires is immense, shouldn't we be encouraging the use of technology for its benefit to the umpires instead of denying them?

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