Was it a no-ball by Deepti Sharma against South Africa? Here’s what Law Says

The 12th edition of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup was characterized by nail-biting thrillers and on March 27, when the last match of the league stage was played, there was yet another riveting contest. In match number 28, India and South Africa locked horns against each other, which was a do or die for the Women in Blue. A win over the Proteas would mean that India would have qualified for the semi-finals and a loss ofcourse would have pushed Mithali Raj and co. out of the World Cup campaign.

 

India lose to South Africa in a tense encounter by 3 Wickets. PC: ICC/Getty Images
India lose to South Africa in a tense encounter by 3 Wickets. PC: ICC/Getty Images

 

After posting a fighting score of 4-274 in 50 overs, India were not able to defend the score against South Africa as their semi-finals hope went begging on the very last ball of the match. South Africa completed the formalities on the ultimate ball of the game to seal a three-wicket win over India and shatter India’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. The last over of the match was at its dramatic best.

India’s Deepti Sharma bowled the last over with seven runs to defend. She bowled the first four balls exceedingly well as she conceded just a run-a-ball. With three runs to get off two balls, South Africa’s Mignon du Preez went for a big hit only to be found caught at long-on by Harmanpreet Kaur. As soon as Kaur grabbed the catch, there were celebrations by the Indian team and the Indian fans, who were present at the venue. However, their celebrations were short-lived as the umpires asked du Preez to wait because they wanted to check whether Sharma had overstepped.

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Deepti Sharma's No-Ball Controversy. PC: ICC/Getty
Deepti Sharma’s No-Ball Controversy. PC: ICC/Getty

 

That very moment billions of Indians had their heart in their mouth. Moments later, the umpire called it a no-ball. Du Preez survived and India’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals almost died. With two runs to get off two balls, South Africa did the needful and ended on the winning side.

After the match, the fans were divided on social media about whether Sharma had actually overstepped. From the visuals, it was painstakingly so close, but there was no part of the foot behind the line. The off-spinner, after doing a great job in the first four balls, messed it up when she overstepped on the fifth ball, though by the slenderest of margins.

 

Indian Women's Cricket Team at World Cup 2022. PC: ICC/Getty
Indian Women’s Cricket Team at World Cup 2022. PC: ICC/Getty

Was it a no-ball as per MCC’s Law?

So was it a no-ball or wasn’t it? According to Law 21 of MCC, “If the bowler bowls without some part of the front foot behind the popping crease (either grounded or in the air) when it lands. If the front foot of a bowler lands behind the crease and slides beyond, then it is not a no-ball. If the foot lands beyond the crease, it is a no-ball. It is legal for a spin bowler, for example, to land with his/her toe spikes grounded wholly in front of the crease but to have his/her heel in the air behind that line. The bowler must satisfy the umpire that some part of the foot lands initially behind the line.”

In the case of Sharma, the umpires deemed that no part of her front foot was behind the popping crease (either grounded or in the air) when it landed. For a spinner, it is legal to land with his/her toe spikes grounded wholly in front of the crease but to have his/her heel in the air behind that line. To India’s misfortune, Sharma failed to satisfy the umpire that some part of her foot landed initially behind the line.

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After suffering a loss at the hands of South Africa, the finalists of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup have made an early exit from this edition of the ICC event.

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