Even though the Decision Review System (DRS) has been specifically introduced to eliminate howlers, it is rapidly becoming a strategic ploy with skippers not shying away from chancing their luck to try and overturn even marginal decisions. The second Test between India and England at Vizag seems to be a perfect example of the prevailing trend.
During the penultimate day, the hosts used up both their reviews within a space of six balls. However, Cheteshwar Pujara did not choose to regret those incorrect calls and attributed them to the match situation.
At the end of day press conference, Pujara believed, “It was the right call because we wanted to get wickets. There were a couple of of close calls and we thought of getting the breakthroughs. The close-in fielders also thought it was close. I think it was the right call. I’m happy with the way things went. We discussed how we want to take calls. As a fielding unit, we knew when to opt for DRS. When batting, we have a clear plan and both batsmen decide.”
Upon setting a mammoth target of 405 runs, the Indians were kept at bay by the opening duo of Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed. They negated the unpredictable bounce with stubborn defense even as Virat Kohli's troops began to get slightly frustrated.
After 45 overs of minimal turbulence, Ravindra Jadeja got one to turn sharply from the rough and appeared to have trapped the phlegmatic left-hander. But, the much maligned Kumar Dharmasena remained unmoved despite a vociferous appeal. Once it was sent upstairs, his decision was vindicated as the home team lost their first review.
In the very next over, Ravichandran Ashwin was convinced he had Cook in his grasp. Eventually, replays showed that the delivery struck the pad first, India’s celebrations were rather premature as another umpire’s call gobbled up their second review. Although they removed both openers just before the close of play and will get the two reviews back after 80 overs are completed, their handling of the DRS did not seem too impressive.
Looking ahead to the final day, Pujara exuded confidence in his bowling attack to wrap up the match and take a 1-0 lead in the 5-match series. England need 318 more runs with eight wickets in hand. To put matters into perspective, no team has scored 400 or more in the fourth-innings on Indian soil.
With history on India’s side, the 28-year old felt, “It’s not easy chasing 400-plus in Indian conditions on day four and five. It’s always difficult, not many teams have done it. It’s a bit difficult to take wickets if you play defensive. But, we have seen there was some variable bounce. Things won’t come easy for us, we know they are capable of batting well. We would not take things for granted. We will have to come hard at them.”