On October 24, the Indian cricket team played its first match of the T20 World Cup 2021 against Pakistan in Dubai. Pakistan made history by defeating India for the first time in a World Cup fixture.
Unsurprisingly, Indian social media was rife with a flurry of activity following the match. Indian bowler Mohammed Shami was targeted online, leading to even some prominent people known to be neutral on social media debates come to the player’s defence. Apart from the widespread trolling, there was also a claim about the circumstances surrounding Indian batsman KL Rahul’s wicket. Several people shared an image and claimed that he had been given an out on a no-ball. They stated that Shaheen Afridi’s foot was outside the crease while bowling but the umpire failed to notice it, and India had to bear the brunt of his blunder.
Twitter user Shiv Sharma tweeted this picture at 7.55 pm on Sunday evening, minutes after the player was dismissed stating that KL Rahul was given an out on a no-ball. The post had been retweeted 215 times as of this writing. (Archive link)
— Shiv Sharma (@ShivShharma) October 24, 2021
Replying to a tweet by YouTuber Ashish Chanchlani, user Rishi Bajaj stated that the match was fixed. He also claimed that KL Rahul was declared out on a no-ball and attached a photo as proof. This tweet also amassed a significant amount of likes and retweets. (Archive link)
I think this match was fixed because Shaheen’s ball to KL Rahul was a no ball umpire also checked and it was clearly a front foot no ball. If Pakistanis don’t beleive I also have a pic pic.twitter.com/ylvxcJIuWc
— Rishi Bajaj (@IamRishi306) October 24, 2021
Furthermore, former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag, known for his comments on social media, made the same claim in his web show ‘Veerugiri’. He stated, “…and soon after that Rahul also got bowled over by Shaheen Afridi for 3 runs. However, replays done later revealed that Shaheen had overstepped and it was a no-ball.” Sehwag also made fun of the umpire, describing him as Rohit, the protagonist of director Rakesh Roshan’s ‘Koi Mil Gaya’, who was unable to see at one point in the film. It is also worth noting that Sehwag has served as a member of the commentary panel of the Indian Cricket Board and did the Hindi commentary for the Indian cricket team’s 2020-2021 Australia tour.
First India News Rajasthan uploaded a clip to Facebook wherein the news anchor also stated that a controversial decision was taken in the World Cup match in which KL Rahul was declared out a no-ball.
भारत पाक मैच पर विवाद ! नो बॉल पर आउट हुए KL Rahul
Posted by First India News Rajasthan on Monday, October 25, 2021
Zee Salaam (an affiliate of Zee News) published a story covering the raging social media debate over whether the delivery on which KL Rahul was declared out was a no-ball. The outlet did not verify the claim.
Not a no-ball
Shaheen Afridi bowled the first ball of his second over while staying within the crease and it was not a no-ball. The claims being made on social media along with the comments made by Virender Sehwag are false. As Rahul was heading towards the pavilion after being declared out, an instant replay from the bowler’s end was aired from a side-on angle, and the viral image was taken from here.
However, the image shows only a single frame. And cricket enthusiasts understand the significance of every single frame in this sport.
The viral image makes it appear as though Afridi’s foot is outside the crease, hence the delivery should be considered a no-ball. However, watching the full video of him bowling reveals the whole story. When the bowler comes toward the crease to throw the ball, his foot is behind the line. This becomes evident from the frame shown below.
But his foot slid forward after it landed on the ground while he was throwing the ball – in which case the delivery cannot be declared a no-ball. If you watch the video carefully, you will notice that his foot did in fact land inside the crease.
Commentator Nasir Hussain also stated that it was not a no-ball. But it is obvious that such nuances cannot be included in an image, which is why the claim went viral with users circulating it knowingly and mistakenly.
Nevertheless, Virender Sehwag and news channels should not be let off the hook for reporting that the ball was not legal purely on the basis of social media trends. Sehwag not only has a massive social media following but is a former player himself and is often invited onto big platforms as an expert on the sport. Every word he states about cricket carries immense weight. And news channels inherently have the biggest responsibility to report facts.
What is the back foot no-ball law?
ICC Rule 21.5 states that the bowler’s back foot must land within and not touch the return crease. The word ‘land’ is very important. This means that even if his foot slides
after it lands, that doesn’t count as a no-ball.
This video by cricket law-making body MCC also explains the rules of the back foot no-ball. The first part explains the law about the back foot landing on the return crease. It can be clearly seen that as per the rule, only the place where the foot lands is considered, and even if it is off the ground while throwing the ball, the delivery will not be considered a no-ball.
To sum it up, the online claim by social media users as well as news channels about KL Rahul being declared out on a no-ball is completely false.