India were at angst by the use of the technology as the ball from off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin hit Elgar below the knee roll on the frontfoot and yet the DRS review showed the ball to be going over the stumps.
The incident happened during the 21st over of the final innings in the series-deciding third Test in Cape Town. With South Africa reaching 60 for one chasing the 212-run target, Elgar looked to nudge Ashwin’s incoming ball through the on-side, only to miss it and seemingly be found right in front of the stumps.
On-field umpire Marais Erasmus had no hesitation in raising a finger. India started celebrating the wicket, while Elgar took what felt like a review taken in hope more than conviction. However, what happened then left everyone shocked, as the replay on DRS displayed a projected path where the ball was sailing over the stumps.
Absolutely convinced that they had their man, Indian fielders were left dismayed over the decision, with Virat Kohli, Ravi Ashwin and KL Rahul going to the extent of speculating foul play on the part of host broadcaster SuperSport.
Kohli, irritated by what had taken place, went close to the stump mic and unleashed his anger, saying:
“Focus on your team while they shine the ball. Not just the opposition. Trying to catch people all the time.”
It was an obvious reference to the 2018 Test at the same venue when SuperSport cameraman had caught the Australian fielders hiding sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball.
Kohli’s remarks were followed by Rahul and Ashwin’s words. While Rahul suggested it is a case of “the whole country against 11 guys”, Ashwin directly addressed the broadcaster when he said:
“You should find better ways to win, SuperSport.”
Erasmus was in disbelief by what had transpired as well. He was heard saying, “that’s impossible” on the stump mic the moment the replay was played on screen and Elgar was declared not out.
An important point to be noted, however, is that SuperSport as a broadcaster is not directly responsible for the images or the data that gets displayed on screen during DRS interventions in the game. That is handled by Hawkeye, an independent body authorised to control the ball-tracking technology. Hawkeye relays the data to the host broadcasters, which they then display on the screen.
The details of the matter make it a case of Indian cricketers misdirecting their anger towards the broadcaster when it is Hawkeye that possibly overestimated the bounce on the Cape Town track in the projected path. However, that by itself isn’t as black and white as it initially looked.
While the delivery from Ashwin initially looked to be going on with a straighter and lower trajectory from the front-on display, the side-on review of the Elgar LBW call created a sense of doubt as the ball was on its way upwards after bouncing with the left-hand batter having taken a decent enough frontfoot stride.
India eventually got Elgar out late in the day’s play, thanks to the DRS when he tried to flick a Jasprit Bumrah ball down leg but ended up edging it back to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Given not out on the field, Elgar couldn’t survive the review by India when the technology confirmed he had nicked the ball through to Pant.