Virender Sharma, former Himachal batsman and now an umpire, was forced to stand at both ends for a full day's play in a Ranji Trophy match in Mysore because his partner, Australian Sam Nogajski, had to be hospitalised with food poisoning. Nogajski, who had complained of stomach cramps last night, is said to be stable and will be discharged on Tuesday, but will not stand in the rest of the match.
The reserve umpire at the venue, Vejith D, is not a member of the BCCI panel, which meant he could only stand at square leg during the second day's play between Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh. Virender had to keep changing ends at the end of every over.
V Narayana Kutty, the match referee, in consultation with the BCCI, decided on P Jaipla as a replacement for the final two days of the game.
The umpire's job became crucial on Monday, as it often does in close Ranji matches, with a lot of appealing. Mumbai, who had been bowled out for 233, managed to eke out a slender eight-run lead, but UP raised hopes of an outright result by taking out two wickets in the dying moments of the day. Ruled out caught at gully, Mumbai opener Kaustubh Pawar left unhappy with the decision, suggesting the ball had lobbed up straight off the thigh pad. Eight balls later, nightwatchman Aditya Dhumal also fell.
The state of Karnataka doesn't seem to be a happy hunting ground for Virender. Last year, Vidarbha's Shrikant Wagh had accused him and colleague Pashchim Pathak of "favouring the home team".
Nor does India seem to be a happy hunting ground for Australian umpires, with whom the BCCI has an exchange programme. Last year John Ward had to be hospitalised after a shot from Barinder Sran pinged him in the head in Dindigul. Tasmanian Nogajski, 37, has been a regular in Shield matches and BBL, and has also stood in four women's ODIs, but this was his first match officiating in India.