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South Africa v Pakistan

Should Fakhar Zaman’s run out dismissal have been ruled out under the ‘fake fielding’ law?

Should Fakhar Zaman's Run Out Dismissal Have Been Ruled Out Under The 'Fake Fielding' Law?
Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner
@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read

It was a tragicomic end to a heroic innings, Fakhar Zaman run out coming back for a second, slowing up as he ran, apparently thinking the ball was headed to the other end, and caught short by a direct hit, but did ‘fake fielding’ play a part?

Replays suggested Zaman’s misunderstanding was down to more than just presumption, with the actions of South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock seemingly helping to convince the Pakistan batsman that he was safe.

After Aiden Markram had thrown the ball in, de Kock, having come up to the stumps to gather the ball, pointed to the non-striker’s end. It was at this point that Zaman turned round and looked back before making a belated, forlorn attempt to slide his bat in.

With the pivotal dismissal confirmed, de Kock laughed and pointed in Zaman’s direction, with the on-air commentators taking that as confirmation that his ruse had paid off. However, if de Kock’s pointing was an attempt to distract the Pakistan opener, there’s a strong argument that the dismissal should have been struck off with five penalty runs and an extra delivery awarded to the chasing side.

Law 41.5, termed the ‘fake fielding’ law, 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”. According to clause 41.5.2, “It is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not.”

The consequences of the umpires deeming a fielder to have fallen foul of the law are to cancel out any dismissal to result, call the ball dead, and award five runs to the batting side, as well as the run in progress at the time of the offence. Had that happened, Pakistan would have needed 24 runs to win with six balls to face, and Zaman still on strike. As it was, the dismissal effectively brought to an end the match as a contest.

Zaman’s knock will go down in the annals of the great innings in a lost cause. It is the highest score in an ODI chase, and he contributed nearly 60 per cent of Pakistan’s runs. However, it is up for debate whether he should have been given the chance for it to be much more.

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