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Was MS Dhoni at fault for an umpiring error?

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The wide yorker goes past the tramline and into MS Dhoni's gloves. Rashid Khan, who swishes his bat at it, misses and breathes a sigh of relief as Paul Reiffel, the on-field umpire, moves across to signal a wide. 

Reiffel has his arms halfway up in the air when he spots MS Dhoni outraging at the call and gesturing at him. Reiffel, perhaps inspired by the famous nose rub from the Big Bash League, dismisses the wide as the Hyderabad dugout looks on in horror.

It's a dreadful call from the umpire. The ball was outside the tramline and he had rightly started signalling a wide until Reiffel, an ICC elite panel umpire, chickened out at MS Dhoni's protest. 

Keepers protest everything, don't they? They are never happy when a wide is called. They are never happy when an LBW appeal is turned down. Dhoni was well within his right too to feel outraged if he felt that wasn't a wide. 

But here's where MS Dhoni's stature as the cricketer that he is becomes important in this discussion. There's no defending Reiffel who made an atrocious decision after watching Dhoni's protest. 

There's no law stating that Dhoni cannot feel aggrieved by an umpire's decision. However, feeling aggrieved and showing dissent at a decision are two completely different things. Dhoni, captain cool for all we know, was gesturing at the umpire and moving towards him as he was about to make the decision.

According to Law 42.2 in the MCC manual, any of the following actions by a player shall constitute a Level 1 offence:

- wilfully mistreating any part of the cricket ground, equipment or implements used in the match

- showing dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action

- using language that, in the circumstances, is obscene, offensive or insulting

- making an obscene gesture

- appealing excessively

- advancing towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing

- any other misconduct, the nature of which is, in the opinion of the umpires, equivalent to a Level 1 offence.

Dhoni was guilty of two of those offences. Fair enough? Evident? He can be charged with a Level 1 offence, but he likely won't be. 

The larger issue again isn't that Dhoni reacted or Reiffel chickened out. An umpire expected to remain impartial and tough enough to fight intimidation. But that does not give the player a right to bully the umpire. The laws are in place to avoid just that!

The most common question that could come out of it is - "wasn't Dhoni's reaction similar to every other keeper's reaction when he feels a decision went against his team?"

It sure is. But MS Dhoni the cricketing figure is more than a mere popular name in the cricketing fraternity. His stature as a veteran player demands him to be responsible for his actions and more importantly be aware of the kind of influence he can have on others in the fraternity.

Like with the incident last year when he rushed onto the field from the dugout in protest of a decision despite being from the batting side, Dhoni crossed a line again, even if far less outrageous. 

If it were another keeper, would Reiffel have altered his decision? Rather unlikely. As a celebrity and daunting figure in this field, Dhoni's actions sway more towards the intimidation scale than mere excessive appealing. The kind of influence Dhoni has should be well known to the player himself. 

We want our superheroes to be real and if anything, Dhoni is as close to being one of those caped heroes in cricket as anyone. Was he then in the right to wield his power in this manner? Can it be dismissed as a spur of the moment reaction? You decide.

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @TimesNowSports

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