Rohit Sharma retired out controversy: Understanding the law

In a thrilling T20I match between India and Afghanistan, the Rohit Sharma retired out episode sparked controversy and raised questions about the law and a possible loophole in it.

The confusion surrounded whether Rohit had retired out or retired hurt, and whether he should have been allowed to bat in the second Super Over. Let's unravel the situation and clarify the ICC's T20I Playing Conditions on this matter.

Every Super Over played by India in T20Is

The confusion around Rohit Sharma retired out in the IND vs AFG T20I

The drama unfolded in Bengaluru during the third T20I, where India faced Afghanistan. After a sensational innings of 121 by Rohit Sharma earlier in the day, the match ended in a tie when Gulbadin Naib fought back with a terrific unbeaten fifty leading to a Super Over showdown. 

Rohit batted in the first Super Over, hitting crucial runs before making way for a quicker runner, Rinku Singh, on the last ball in what appeared to be a strategic move.

However, the confusion arose when Rohit came out to bat once again in the second Super Over once the first Super Over was tied too. According to the ICC's T20I Playing Conditions, any batsman dismissed in any previous Super Over shall be ineligible to bat in any subsequent Super Over.

Appendix F and clause 22 of the ICC Men’s T20I Playing Conditions that deals with Super Overs states: “Any batter dismissed in any previous Super Over shall be ineligible to bat in any subsequent Super Over.”

The question that lingered was whether Rohit had retired out or retired hurt. The ICC's Playing Conditions specify that a batter can retire not out “because of illness, injury, or any other unavoidable cause.” 

In Rohit's case, it seemed clear that he was physically able to bat; he had chosen not to continue, a tactical move to ensure a quicker runner was at the non-striker's end. Dravid even quipped in the post-match press conference that Rohit used “Ash-level thinking” implying that like Ravichandran Ashwin did in the IPL, Rohit retired out tactically. Did the umpire’s make an error then?

Speaking on Jio Cinema, former Indian cricketer Parthiv Patel said that he thought the umpires made an error: “Rohit Sharma was retired out, and yet he came out to bat in the second Super Over. He shouldn't have because he was retired ‘out' and not ‘hurt'. I think that's something the umpires missed out there.”

The rule also differentiates ‘retired out' from the other modes of dismissal. In a regular game, a batter who retires out can only resume their innings with the consent of the opposing captain. Afghanistan's frustration at Rohit continuing his innings suggests that no such consent was given. 

“I have no idea,” Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott said at the end of the game. “Has there ever been two Super Overs? 

Rohit Sharma retired out controversy in IND vs AFG T20I
Photo by Icon Sport

“That's what I am trying to say. It's sort of like a new… we keep setting these new sort of rules. What I am trying to say is we kept testing the rules, we kept testing the guidelines.

The controversy surrounding Rohit's involvement in the second Super Over hinges on the interpretation of the law. 

While Rohit's choice to retire out may have been strategic, it raised questions about the intended purpose of the rule, which should penalize ‘out' batters. Afghanistan's coach, Jonathan Trott, expressed concerns about a lack of communication between officials and teams, shifting the focus from an otherwise thrilling encounter.

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The Rohit Sharma retired out controversy highlighted the importance of understanding the intricacies of cricket's playing conditions, which could cause unwanted confusion like it famously did at the 2019 World Cup final. 

In this case, the match officials are yet to confirm if Rohit was retired hurt or retired out. If it was a tactical decision and then exploiting the minor loophole in the law, the episode emphasizes the need for clarity and consistency in applying these rules in high-stakes matches.


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India