Umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan was given the task to officiate from both ends in what were bizarre scenes on Day II of the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal here at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium.
With the other on-field umpire, C. Shamshuddin, indisposed after being hit in the lower abdomen region by a Bengal fielder’s throw late on Monday and there being no provisions for a fourth umpire, Ananthapadmanabhan had to officiate from both ends.
Another BCCI umpire Piyush Kakkar joined Ananthapadmanabhan on the field in Tuesday’s morning session, but his role was limited to that of the leg umpire since he was from Saurashtra and not from a neutral state.
National selectors present at the venue, including chairman Sunil Joshi, claimed such incidents have happened before in the Ranji Trophy and is not something “against the rules”.
Syed Saba Karim, the BCCI’s general manager — cricket operations, when contacted, said: “If this kind of an incident happens, the match referee and other officials have to take it forward and discuss the matter with both teams.
“If the two teams are okay with it, then there shouldn’t be any problem as such. You can say it’s within the rules.”
SCA president and former Saurashtra captain Jaydev Shah said: “Umpire Shamshuddin got hit and he complained of pain on Monday night. This morning he had to be taken to hospital, so we had to call one of our local umpires (Kakkar), who’s also qualified for Ranji Trophy.
“But he could only be the leg umpire as we had to ensure allegations of biasness didn’t get raised.”
Shah hoped that the incident would serve as a lesson for the Board and that a reserve umpire would be kept for such important matches.
“It’s difficult to say if such an incident has happened in the past, but this was certainly a rare occasion. From this incident the authorities will hopefully learn and do something about keeping a reserve umpire, especially for a final.”
As for creating a provision for the fourth umpire, it was learnt that the BCCI would discuss the issue once the season gets over.
S. Ravi, the designated TV umpire, took the field for the second and third sessions of the day, while his role was played by Shamshuddin, who’s set to go back on Wednesday.
“The report says there’s a bit of swelling... So he has been advised a week’s rest by the doctor,” said another senior SCA official.
Yeshwant Barde, one of the on-field umpires for Bengal’s semi-final clash versus Karnataka at Eden Gardens, will be officiating along with Ananthapadmanabhan from Day III onwards.