The first Test between India and Sri Lanka during the 2008 series began on July 23. The Test holds a huge significance in the history as it was the first time when the Umpire Decision Review System or the DRS was first trialled by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in an international match. The sole purpose of introducing the technology in the game of cricket was to review controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires as to whether the batsman had been dismissed or not. More importantly, when the technology can be handier, why not reduce the umpire’s burden? The DRS was first used in the first Test between India and Sri Lanka at the SCC during their 2008 series. The DRS’ inclusion in the cricket would be a huge change in the game and a few hurdles in the initial stages were expected. That exactly happened as it was not welcomed with just positive responses.
DRS’s international debut
India toured Sri Lanka for a three-Test series in July 2008. The first Test, which was played at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground (SSC) in Colombo, saw the use of the DRS for the very first time at the international level. With the exception of ‘Timed Out,’ a player could review any decision taken by the on-field umpire. During the trial match, each team was allowed three unsuccessful review requests per innings.
Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and had opted to bat first. Just after 22 overs, it started to pour in Colombo and that forced the umpires to call off the Day one. The second day had commenced half an hour early, to make up for the lost time on the opening day. After Sri Lanka lost Michael Vandort and Kumar Sangakkara early, they had Malinda Warnapurna and Jayawardene at the crease.
After 45 overs were bowled by India, then came the first-ever review was taken in an international match. The review was taken by India in the 46th over, which was bowled by Harbhajan Singh. However, Harbhajan’s appeal for Leg Before Wicket (LBW) against Warnapura was turned down and the review replays showed the field umpire to be spot on. Later on in the match, Indian opener Virender Sehwag found his name entered in the record books for a not-so-memorable reason. He became the first cricketer to be given out via the review system. On Day four, in the seven over of India’s second innings, Muttiah Muralitharan, made a huge appeal for LBW against Sehwag. The on-field umpire thought the ball had deflected first and hence did not raise his index finger.
Jayawardene and Co. were more than certain that the Sehwag was trapped leg before wicket. He immediately signalled for a DRS review. The replays showed that the ball hit Sehwag’s pad first and then got deflected. That was followed by on-field Umpire, Mark Benson, changing his decision and Sehwag had to walk back, turning the call into a controversial one. Meanwhile, earlier in the match during Sri Lanka’s innings, Tillakaratne Dilshan became the first batsman to continue batting even after having been given out by the on-field umpire. Dilshan’s review was also the first successful challenge against an umpiring decision.
There began the tiff between the Indian cricket board and the DRS technology. In three Tests, India made only one successful review; Sri Lanka made 11. Although the system exposed some faults in its first experiment and receives mixed reviews. To make it worse, the Indians lost the Test series 1-2 but compensated with a victory in the ODI series.
To overcome the glitches in the DRS system, the ICC then included a new tool – Hot Spot – an infra-red imaging system that showed if the ball went in contact with the bat or the pad first. The combination of the DRS and the Hot Spot was tested during the second and third Tests between Australia and South Africa in 2009 before the ICC officially launched the DRS System on 24 November 2009 during the first Test match between at Dunedin.
In 2013, the ICC reset the DRS rules in the Test format. Previously, a team could make two unsuccessful reviews per innings and according to the new rules, a team will have two reviews – irrespective of how many it has used up – after the 80th over of the same innings. However, the rule of one review per innings in an ODI game remained intact.
Although eight years have passed since the DRS was launched, it has not been received fully by the cricketing nations, especially by the BCCI. Now, the ICC allows the usage of the DRS only on a bilateral agreement between the boards of the playing countries.