The frailties of the ‘soft signal’ call was exposed in the fourth T20I here on Thursday, when Suryakumar Yadav’s entertaining knock was cruelly cut short.
A top edge flew to Dawid Malan at deep fine-leg, who took a low, debatable catch. The on-field umpires Nitin Menon and K.N. Ananthapadmanabhan, with Nitin the closest to the action at square-leg, took an educated guess and gave the soft signal as out, before referring the matter to the third umpire. Replays suggested that Malan had grounded the ball, but third umpire Virender Sharma — likely swayed by the soft signal – stuck to the ‘out’ decision. In Virender’s estimation, there was no indisputable evidence to overrule the soft signal.
Cricket’s quirky rule came up for discussion for a second time in the innings, when Washington Sundar fell to a catch taken by Adil Rashid inches in front of the rope. The soft signal was given out, which replays proved right.
Former India cricketers V.V.S. Laxman and Wasim Jaffer were among the many who took to Twitter to express their frustration at the concept of ‘soft signal’, asking for its elimination from the sport. Would it not be more prudent to leave such matters entirely up to the third umpire, who now has one hand tied behind his back?