Freak run-out sparks drama amid the dullness
It was a day that crawled along, and then plodded on, but in between, the freak run-out of Rajasthan opener Vineet Saxena provided some drama amid the dullness. Saxena mistimed a drive off the first delivery after lunch, and the ball rolled away to the leg side. Bhargav Bhatt from midwicket ran in to field the ball. Meanwhile, Saxena, who was outside his ground, took two steps back in to the crease, and then strode out to do some gardening on the pitch. When he was about two feet outside the crease, he gestured in the direction of square-leg umpire K Hariharan, asking for his permission to step out of his ground.
An alert Pinal Shah, the Baroda wicketkeeper-captain, sensed an opportunity and gestured frantically to Bhatt. Bhatt, who was standing beside the ball, suddenly swung into action and threw down the striker's stumps with a direct hit, with Saxena miles down the track. Even as Baroda went up in appeal, Saxena looked confused, and Hariharan walked up to umpire Shavir Tarapore. After some discussion, the matter was referred to third umpire SS Shamsuddin, who ruled Saxena out.
Now the rule says that a batsman is run-out if he is found out of his ground while the ball is still in play, whether or not a run is being attempted. A ball is in play till it settles in the hands of the wicketkeeper or the bowler. In this case, the umpires felt that the ball was in play, and the referral was made to check at what point the batsman sought permission to step outside his ground. Replays clearly showed that Saxena was well outside when he gestured to Hariharan, and was adjudged out.
There were conflicting opinions among the teams and former players about the entire incident. Pinal felt he was within his rights to claim the run-out. "It was not a planned move. The ball was in play. He just walked out, and did not ask for permission before doing so. Generally if you are walking out, you just inform the umpire or the keeper or the slip fielder."
Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the Rajasthan captain, was understandably unimpressed. "I have heard it was within the rules, but I wouldn't have claimed that wicket; that is for sure." Pinal felt that Kanitkar's reaction was to be expected. "If I was in the opposition, and my batsman would have got out, even I would have said the same thing. But I thought he (Saxena) made a mistake by walking out."
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo