A five-run penalty, seen rarely in international cricket, came into force when Cheteshwar Pujara dropped Temba Bavuma at slip, inadvertently letting the ball roll onto a helmet kept behind the wicketkeeper.
Off the fifth ball of the 50th over on day two of the South Africa-India Cape Town Test, Bavuma tried to cut a Shardul Thakur delivery pitched outside off, managing a thick outside edge that flew behind towards the slip cordon. The ball travelled quickly towards the gap between Rishabh Pant and Pujara, at first slip. Pant dived to his right, trying to cling on, but it missed him and went straight to Pujara instead. With Pant diving across him and the ball coming fast and low, Pujara reacted late and couldn’t cling on.
The ball bounced off his hand and rolled behind, inching towards a set of two fielding helmets sitting behind Pant. It eventually knocked into one of them to hand India a five-run penalty that was added to the South Africa total.
“Gosh, insult followed by injury,” Mark Nicholas said on commentary. “Difficult chance to your left side as first slip. Very difficult on the inside of the keeper and it flew, it flew low from an under-edge [outside edge].”
“It was the cue-end and that’s why it flows,” fellow commentator Shaun Pollock said. “And then you also have to deal with the keeper going across and throwing his right arm out. It always goes to hand, and you think ‘Why did it go down’, but it’s lots going on. It’s a bit of a surprise as well when it comes to you. He got two hands to it, he’ll probably feel he should have taken that one. It is a tough chance, Pujara”.
MCC Law 28.3, regarding ‘protective helmets belonging to the fielding side’, states: “If the ball while in play strikes a helmet, the ball shall become dead”. Further, “an award of 5 Penalty runs shall be made to the batting side.”
Any runs completed by the batters before the ball strikes the helmet “shall be scored, together with the run in progress if the batters had already crossed at the instant of the ball striking the protective helmet”.