DRS woes continue to haunt Indians

Cricket : Team yet to come to grips with the method

DRS woes continue to haunt Indians

 India are obviously relatively new to the Decision Review System, having implemented the technology from the England series a few months ago. In other words they have the experience of just eight Tests, including the first Test against Australia in the ongoing series, in using the system.

 Evidently, it’s significantly less than what English or South African or Australian teams have. India did play two series with DRS in place – once when it was first tried in the series against Sri Lanka in 2008 and then in 2011 against England with LBW decisions left for on-field umpires. For the current bunch of Indian players, though, the use of DRS was the first such instance of familiarising themselves with the method when England came home late last year and hence they are ought to get more reviews wrong than right.

 Even with the “improved” version, the complexities of DRS at best are perplexing. It’s difficult for any captain, who is eventually responsible for taking a call on review, to get his head around it, particularly when he is not a close-in fielder. For someone like Virat Kohli, who more often than not mans either cover region or mid-on, he has to rely on either the bowler or the wicketkeeper and ideally both. After a reasonable success with the review procedure in the first couple of Tests against England, he has often been left red-faced with more reviews going in opposition’s favour. Or should we say in favour of on-field umpires?

In the just concluded Test against Australia, Kohli exhausted his bowling reviews in the first innings by the 39th over and he fared even worse in the second innings by unsuccessfully using the two reviews available for first 80 overs by the 37th over. In fact, in the second innings, Kohli took DRS in the space of eight balls, both off Jayant Yadav’s bowling.

 The rapidity with which he asked for reviews made one wonder if Kohli is still to learn the art of saying no to his bowlers. There have been occasions where he has refrained from heeding his bowlers’ demands and has been proven right as well but there have been more instances of him succumbing to his bowlers’ cajoling as the stats (see table) would suggest. In other words, Kohli should take the emotion out of his decision-making process because a bowler would always think he has got the wicket.    

 “I don’t think so,” said Head Coach Anil Kumble firmly when asked if India are struggling to get DRS right. “When the players feel that probably the decision could have gone our way, that’s when you take. I think in the previous two series when the DRS was there, we were better off than the opposition, both England and Bangladesh,” he pointed out.

 In contrast to Kohli, we could see his Australian counterpart Steve Smith use the reviews more judiciously. While Smith is more experienced in employing the method, he doesn’t shy away from saying no if he is not convinced by his bowler’s case, even if replays later were to prove him wrong which exactly happened when he turned down Steve O’Keefe’s appeal for review in India’s second innings. Replays confirmed that Kohli would have been out had the original “not out” decision been reviewed. But then, at professional level, there is no room for personal emotions.

In the Indian second innings, the Indian openers M Vijay and K L Rahul were guilty of finishing off the reviews pretty early but that was beyond Kohli’s control.

“For me if it’s given not out in the middle and we think it's out we generally have a crack,” said Smith. “You don't want to guess too much on those sorts of wickets. I think it was fortunate that the first two (Indian) batters used up the reviews early (in the second innings) on this particular innings. On these kinds of wickets you have those little inside edges and balls that are skidding past the bat a long way. It’s nice to have one up your sleeve, (for) a real shocker,” he reasoned.

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