It took a ball tampering allegation from the infamous Darrell Hair to add drama to an otherwise dead rubber.
Hair, easily the most controversial umpire in international cricket, accused Pakistan of tampering with the ball on the penultimate day of the fourth Test against England here at The Oval on Sunday, a move that snowballed into a major controversy.
Pakistan refused to take the field after tea, protesting against the Australian umpire’s accusation and once they did return after a round of negotiations, it was Hair who decided to go on strike.
The drama stopped Pakistan from pressing for a win in the Test that they had completely dominated in the previous three days.
The match descended into chaos as first the Pakistani players and then the umpires refused to return to the field. After almost an hour-and-a-half after play was scheduled to resume following tea, play was called off for the day.
Uncertainty still prevailed over the fate of the match as there was no official statement on what would happen next. The match might resume on Monday, the final day, or the umpires can declare it forfeited.
Hair, who rocked the cricket world by calling Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking, shocked almost everybody when he stopped play to inspect the ball and after discussion with fellow umpire Billy Doctrove awarded five penalty points against Pakistan for alleged ball tempering and then changed the ball.
After a heated argument with the umpires, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq decided to continue playing and the match carried on till tea without any incident. After the interval, however, Pakistan were not ready to carry on.
England were 298-4 when hair pointed his finger of accusation and Pakistan were still in with a chance to win the Test.
The hosts resumed their campaign to save the Test at 78-1 with Strauss at 37 and Cook at 33. Pakistan were unlucky as they were denied an early breakthrough by Doctrove in the very first over. Cook popped a catch off Kaneria to silly point but the Pakistani appeals got a deaf ear.
Cook looked uncomfortable facing Kaneria as the leg-spinner exploited the rough on the track and was turning the ball sharply.
There was more frustration for Pakistan when Kaneria clean bowled Cook with a sizzler but on a no-ball.
Strauss was a lot more confident and cruised to his fifty before falling to a Kaneria delivery that turned a few feet after pitching outside the off stump. It was a controversial decision but for once it favoured Pakistan. Strauss went for 54 that came off 83 balls and included nine fours.
Cook needed another life before reaching his fifty as Faisal Iqbal dropped him off Asif at 47.
Pakistan squandered another golden opportunity when Kamran Akmal spilt a regulation catch after Pietersen, at 15, had edged a Kaneria delivery straight on to his gloves.
The duo made Pakistan pay and added 103 for the third wicket before Cook was beaten by a swinging Yorker by Umar Gul. Cook’s 83 came off 146 balls and included 11 fours. England were at 218-3 when he departed.
A few overs later came a dramatic twist that overshadowed all efforts made by the English batsmen during the day. At the end of 56th over, the umpires decided to award five penalty points for alleged ball tampering, ignoring a heated protest from Inzamam. According to laws, umpires can change the ball if being changed unfairly by the fielders and the batsmen get a choice to pick another one from a choice of six balls. England moved to 235-3 with the five-run addition.
Pietersen continued his march towards a second successive century only to fall four runs short when he chased a wide one from Shahid Nazir and Akmal took a low, diving catch. England were still trailing by 54 when Pietersen returned to the pavilion after scoring an electric 96 off 114 balls with the help of two sixers and 13 fours.
Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell 21 more runs to the England total when bad light forced umpires to signal an early tea.
Pakistan won toss
England 1st inns 173 (A N Cook 40; Mohammad Asif 4-56, Umar Gul 4-46)
Pakistan 1st inns 504 (Mohammad Hafeez 95, Imran Farhat 91, Mohammad Yousuf 128, Faisal Iqbal 58*; S J Harmison 4-125)
England 2nd inns (overnight 78-1)
M E Trescothick c Kamran b Asif 4
*A J Strauss lbw b Kaneria 54
A N Cook lbw b Umar 83
K P Pietersen c Kamran b Shahid 96
P D Collingwood not out 27
I R Bell not out 9
Extras (b8, lb2, nb10, pen5) 25
Total (4 wkts, 72 overs) 298
To bat: †C M W Read, S I Mahmood, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, M S Panesar
Fall: 1-8, 2-115, 3-218, 4-277
Bowling: Mohammad Asif 17-1-79-1 (6nb); Umar Gul 14-1-70-1 (1nb); Mohammad Hafeez 4-1-13-0; Danish Kaneria 29-6-94-1 (2nb); Shahid Nazir 8-1-27-1
Series: England leads the 4-Test series 2-0
Umpires: B R Doctrove (West Indies) and D B Hair (Australia). TV umpire: P J Hartley. Match referee: M J Procter (South Africa)
Previous matches: July 13-17 1st Test Lord’s, match drawn. July 27-29 2nd Test Manchester, England won by an innings and 120 runs. August 4-8 3rd Test Leeds, England won by 167 runs
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, August 21st, 2006 and is filed under General.
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