Euro 2020 Special

Kohli accused of fake fielding

Former Indian captain Virat Kohli has been accused of fake fielding in his side’s tense win over Bangladesh in their World Cup match earlier this week.

His attempt to shy at the stumps even though he did not have the ball in his hands at the time has been labelled as tantamount to cheating by some.


What happened?

In the 7th over of the Bangladesh innings before it was interrupted by rain, opener Liton Das was in full flow and threatened to help his side pull off an unlikely victory. He was on strike to a ball bowled by Axar Patel which he played towards the deep off-side.

As the ball passed Kohli who was fielding at point, he feigned picking it up and shying at the stumps – an action that neither on-field umpires Marcus Erasmus, and Chris Brown, noticed at the time.


What the laws state

The laws of the game are explicit on this subject stating that it is unfair for any fielder, “wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batter after the striker has received the ball.”Those found guilty of such deliberate deception are sanctioned by the award of five penalty runs against their side – exactly India’s winning margin in this case.


There is precedent

Since the laws were amended in 2017 to cover all incidents of what is deemed “fake fielding”, there have been several examples where players have been punished for this offence.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia was the first to be sanctioned under the new rule, playing in a one-day match for the Queensland Bull against a Cricket Australia XI in Brisbane as he pretended to throw the ball from mid-off even though he did not have it in his hands at the time.

Last year, Pakistan were denied a fake fielding penalty in a close finish with South Africa. In that instance, Fakhar Zaman was run out of the last ball after South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock signalled that a throw from deep was going towards the bowler’s end.

Fakhar – thinking that he was safe – slowed down, only to be run out short of his crease when a throw form Aiden Markram hit his stumps.


The matter is not finished

Although the outcome of the match cannot be changed, the matter is not finished. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) have confirmed that they intend to raise their concerns in the proper forum, which is presumably with the ICC.

Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists have been having a field day with former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi accusing the ICC of supporting India and wanting them to reach the semi-finals at all costs.

He was referring to the decision to resume the match after a rain delay, even though the outfield was soaked. Other matches in the World Cup, for example the game between South Africa and Zimbabwe were abandoned in similar conditions.

When play was stopped, Bangladesh were well ahead of the required asking rate. However, under the Duckworth Lewis Stern (DLS) methodology, they were set a revised target that required them to score at a faster rate than they had previously and in less propitious circumstances.


How India benefitted

Had the penalty been imposed on Kohli, then the outcome of the match may have been entirely different and also India’s fate. That win, combined with South Africa’s loss to Pakistan the following day, means that they now top their group heading into the final match against Zimbabwe – a match they are expected to win easily.

If that occurs then they will face the easier of the semi-finals, probably against Australia or England.

Had Bangladesh won, however, they would have been in a race for qualification along with India, South Africa, and Pakistan.


Not the first umpiring error

This has not been the only umpiring error at this World Cup. In the match between Australia and Afghanistan with the home side batting, the on-field match officials somehow missed the fact that only five balls were bowled in the fourth over of the innings.

That could yet cost Australia if Net Run rate is used to determine who progresses from their group to the semi-finals.




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