South Africa v West Indies, Champions Trophy, Group B, Cardiff June 15, 2013

Six crucial moments

A look back at key moments which took away time from the already truncated virtual quarter-final encounter

The match was called off at 7.56pm, which was 41 minutes beyond the limit a match can go to, after adding the extra one hour to the scheduled close of play. Players played through rain on more than one occasion, and towards the end the umpires tried their best to get a full 31 overs in. And clearly, as the tie that took South Africa ahead and knocked West Indies out illustrates, it was a game of fine margins. Here are some of the instances where precious seconds, or minutes, might have been lost or gained. This is not necessarily a criticism of how the game was run, but just those tantalising moments or spells that we will look back at and wonder.

West Indies' over-rate
It was abysmal for a side that knew that shared points in this match would do them no good. They should have been desperate to bowl their 31 overs in time, and make sure they got a game in. However, they took two hours and 34 minutes to bowl their 31 overs. That's 154 minutes to bowl 31 overs. They should have ideally bowled 36.4 overs in this much time. The match referee, after making all allowances for injuries, unscheduled drinks and balls lost in the River Taff, found West Indies one over short. What they would give now to face that over.

The innings break
Despite such long delays, we still had a half-hour innings break. The playing conditions make a provision for a shortened break, but only if the time had been lost just before the innings ended. They say: "(iii) Note: The prescribed interval timings above may be reduced further [from 30 minutes] by the ICC Match Referee taking into account the intention of not having a prolonged interval after a lengthy interruption close to the conclusion of the innings of the team batting first. However, the minimum interval shall not be less than ten minutes."

Here the match referee followed the book, but for once the ICC's book, usually carefully and well-worded, seems to have made a mistake.

The review
At the end of the 15th over of the chase, there was an lbw appeal against Devon Smith. South Africa reviewed it, and found that Smith was plumb. The decision was reversed. It is hindsight - as all is - but imagine if he had been given out originally or if South Africa had not reviewed it. This is not to say what happened was wrong - the DRS was used, and used well - but these were important seconds.

The inconclusive delay
Immediately after Smith got out, a drizzle forced the players off the ground. It was 6.38pm then, and they were back on the field at 6.44pm. We had already and obviously been maxed out on time, but when they came back the target and overs remaining were unchanged. After a point of time, we lose an over every 4.2 minutes, and we were well beyond that time, but it turns out the umpires took off the drinks break that was imminent in 10 minutes to readjust the six minutes lost. Had they taken even one over off then, who knows things might have turned out differently?

The referral
In the 26th over, four balls before the final ball was bowled, Kieron Pollard took a risky second run, but the throw from deep midwicket was wide. AB de Villiers, the wicketkeeper, hadn't even collected the ball when he broke the wicket, and Pollard was anyway well past the stumps - forget the crease - by the time he did so. However, the square-leg umpire still went to the third umpire to confirm the obvious. Crucial seconds lost, but you can't blame the umpires too much considering all the complex calculations they were putting in.

South Africa's over-rate
Despite being the team that could walk away happy with shared points, South Africa were not slow with their over-rate. They bowled 26.1 overs in two hours and two minutes, after making the adjustment for the six-minute rain break. The prescribed over-rate suggests they should have bowled 28.4 overs in such time. That's only 2.3 overs short before making the same allowances for West Indies. It is entirely possible they got in those extra deliveries thanks to their quicker over-rate, which eventually kept them alive in the tournament.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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