Cricket fans, on-air commentators and Twitterati were left speechless as on-field umpires decided to take a lunch break with India needing only two runs to win the second ODI of the six-match series in Centurion on Sunday, February 4.
The umpires strictly went by the book when they put a break on the play as India were cruising towards the 119-run target at the Supersport Park. India were 117/1 as Shikhar Dhawan (51) and Virat Kohli (44) remained unbeaten when the on-field officials intervened.
Earlier in the match, the umpires had extended the play by 15 minutes postponing the lunch break hoping India would complete the chase.
However, as India failed to get the runs in the stipulated time, the umpires decided to take the players off the field, helping raise quite a few eyebrows. Captain Virat Kohli, who was unbeaten on 44, was seen having an animated chat with the on-field umpires before heading to the dressing room.
Following the end of a 45-minute break, India eventually got those two runs and cruised to a nine-wicket win over South Africa to go 2-0 up in the ODI series.
The on-air commentators questioned the decision and called it "laughable" and one that lacked "common sense". Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar opined that nobody would have complained if the umpires had allowed the play to resume.
"Hard to understand, but that's what cricket is. At times, one can be very rigid about rules. I think common sense should have prevailed. Nobody would have complained," Gavaskar said on-air on Sunday.
Before checking out the reactions to the bizarre lunch break, take a look at this piece of information from International Cricket Council's rule book.
Here's the ICC clause 11.4.4, which allows officials to change 'agreed times of intervals'.
The umpires may decide to play 15 minutes (a minimum of four overs) extra time at the scheduled interval if requested by either captain if, in the umpires' opinion, it would bring about a definite result in that session. If the umpires do not believe a result can be achieved no extra time shall be allowed.
Umpires treating Indian batsmen like PSU Bank treat customers. Lunch ke baad aana #INDvSA
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) February 4, 2018
I wish everyone follows the traffic rules in India to the dot just liked umpire followed the rule by calling off the play for lunch when India need just two runs to win...?
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) February 4, 2018
Totally ridiculous. India need two runs to win and the players are leaving the field for lunch! Come on cricket. It's 2018. Get with it. #SAvIND
— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) February 4, 2018
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) February 4, 2018
— subramani badrinath (@s_badrinath) February 4, 2018
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) February 4, 2018
India need 2 runs to in 31 overs and umpires take lunch. That's how strict our hostel wardens were. #SAvIND
— Daniel Alexander (@daniel86cricket) February 4, 2018
With 2 runs to win, umpires call players off for lunch. THIS is why Cricket, in all its beautiful glory, is utterly frustrating to watch/cover because it is governed by archaic, stupid rules. Unbelievable! #SAvInd
— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) February 4, 2018
— Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) February 4, 2018
ICC: We need to improve cricket's standards and spread cricket to the new audiences throughout the world
Also ICC: Lets take a lunch break when the winning team only need 2 runs to win in an ODI match! #SAvIND
— Sakun Sankalana ⚓️ (@Sakun_SD) February 4, 2018
At times cricket doesn't help itself - 2 runs needed to win the match and they take lunch #SAvIND
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) February 4, 2018
Well looks like umpires don't have plans for evening. And they don't want to take lunch in hotel and pay bills for it. So they decided to have a free meal at ground. ?@ICC @bhogleharsha #IndiaVsSouthAfrica @cricketaakash @cricketwallah @BCCI @OfficialCSA
— Aniruddha Joshi (@janiruddha12) February 4, 2018
People often say the umpires have a tough job. They say you can't replace umpires with robots/technology because you need the human factor. Well, that robotic decision to take lunch makes you wonder if the job is tough because they're programmed not to think... Like a human.
— achettup (@TestingRhymes) February 4, 2018