Star wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock has divided the cricket world with a moment of deception that ended the brilliant innings of Pakistan batsman Fakhar Zaman on 193, saving South Africa from a potentially tension-filled final over as they won by 17 runs.
Fakhar’s incredible knock never looked like it would be enough to overhaul South Africa’s total of 341 in the second ODI match of the series in Johannesburg overnight.
Yet it breathed life into a match that looked over in the 38th over, with Pakistan slumping to 7/205 with the loss of Faheem Ashraf, leaving the visitors with 137 runs to get in 12.2 overs with just three wickets remaining.
At that point Zaman was on 97 but it prompted the 30-year-old to go ballistic, hitting the South African attack to all parts as he single-handedly revived the contest until his innings was cruelly ended just shy of a deserved double hundred.
His controversial dismissal was brought about by a bullet throw from the deep that ran him out at the keepers’ end via a direct hit but not before the devious de Kock had played his part.
Sensing that a run out could be on, de Kock signalled that the ball was heading towards the bowler’s end, all the while knowing that the throw was on its way to the striker’s end.
Fakhar took the bait hook, line and sinker and started to cruise towards the crease without urgency, thinking his end was out of play.
Moments later his stumps were scattered after the throw took him off guard and caught him short of the crease, with the cunning de Kock at the ready had he been needed to glove the ball to complete the run out.
The dismissal overshadowed the brilliant innings, with some viewers applauding de Kock’s cheeky ingenuity while others slammed the tactic and argued that it actually breached cricket’s Laws.
At that point the win was all but out of reach for Pakistan, needing 31 runs from the last six balls when the run out occurred.
But had the umpires ruled that de Kock had been guilty of ‘fake fielding’ South Africa would have been penalised five runs and mathematically at least Pakistan would have been in with a chance.
Law 41.5.1 states that “it is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball”.
However Fakhar took the sting out of what could have been a major blow-up by graciously taking responsibility for his dismissal.
“The fault was mine as I was too busy looking out for (non-striker) Haris Rauf at the other end as I felt he’d started off a little late from his crease, so I thought he was in trouble,” he said.
“The rest is up to the match referee, but I don’t think it’s Quinton’s fault.”
South African skipper Temba Bavuma denied that de Kock’s actions were against the rules
“It was quite clever from Quinny,” he said.
“Maybe some people might criticise it for maybe not being in the spirit of the game. But it was an important wicket for us. Zaman was getting close to our target. Yeah, it was clever from Quinny.
“You’ve always got to look for ways especially when things are not going your way, got to find ways to turn momentum around. Quinny did that – I don’t think he broke the rules in any kind of way. It was a clever piece of cricket.”
Bavuma was at the centre of another contentious moment just two overs earlier when he dropped a catch offered by Fakhar, only for the ball to strike his hat, which had fallen from his head.
Law 28.2.1 states that a fielder “will be deemed to have fielded the ball illegally if, while the ball is in play he/she wilfully uses anything other than part of his/her person to field the ball”.
However, Law 28.2.2 clarifies that “It is not illegal fielding if the ball in play makes contact with a piece of clothing, equipment or any other object which has accidentally fallen from the fielder’s person”, meaning the umpires were correct in not awarding five penalty runs.
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