Cricket fans are upset at the Pakistan team's defeat to South Africa and Quinton De Kock "cheating" Fakhar Zaman of five runs.
Fans took the falling of Fakhar Zaman’s wicket hard at the end of a hard-fought battle against South Africa Sunday night. Since then, loud groups of cricket fanatics have taken to Twitter, creating a ruckus over their perceived “cheating” by De Kock and “poor officiating” by the umpires and match referee. Their cries have been echoed by cricket journalists and professionals around the world.
The deeply offended Pakistani fans are loud, but in all fairness, they’ve got a point.
Pakistan’s high-intensity run chase was led by opening batsman Zaman, our knight in shining armour, who played a tremendous innings, scoring a heroic 193 in 155 balls. The knock was record breaking, as he put up the highest individual score in a chase in ODI cricket history, and the second highest for a losing team. The way he got run out, however, is what sparked the immense controversy flooding your social media feeds.
Chasing 31 in the final over, Zaman faced pacer Lungi Ndidi for the first ball. He hit the ball down his off-side, and ran for a double with Haris Rauf on the non-striker's end. As Zaman made his way back to his crease, wicketkeeper De Kock’s gesture suggested that the ball, being thrown by Aiden Markram, was headed for the non-striker's end. Zaman, with his back towards the ball, saw the gesture and slowed down considerably, only to be stunned as Markram’s direct hit cut his extraordinary innings just short of his highly anticipated second double century in ODI cricket.
The internet went into a meltdown soon after, as fan claimed De Kock wilfully deceived Zaman, forcing the error that lead to his wicket. Cricket rules were searched up and published with tweets directly addressing world cricket’s governing body, the ICC, and the custodians of the sports’ rule book, the prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club.
The law being raised by observers and fans is Law 41.5.1, which states: “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”.
The MCC also addressed the controversy by highlighting the rule and said it was the umpire's call.
If the umpire had penalised South Africa for the "deception", Pakistan would have gotten an extra five runs in an addition to the two they would have completed.
People were divided on social media, with some calling De Kock's antics "the perfect dummy" and “clever cricketing” while others felt they were disgraceful and damaging to the “gentlemen’s sport”.
Cricketer Shoaib Akhtar also spoke out on the issue, saying he “wouldn’t call it cheating” though he does consider it damaging to the good spirit of the game. In response to his tweet, fans were quick to remind the Rawalpindi express of his own days, and his owns actions that allegedly damaged the said spirit of the game.
Cricket journalist Zainab Abbas was a lot more direct and purposeful with her tweet.
She did, however, later acknowledge that Zaman should’ve been more vigilant.
Cricket statistician Mazher Arshad called De Kock "cheeky".
He believed Pakistan should have gotten more runs from this situation.
Legendary fast bowler Waqar Younis too took notice of the incident and praised Zaman for his innings.
As it stands, Zaman is the only Pakistani batsmen ever to have scored a double-century in ODIs, accomplishing the feat against Zimbabwe in 2018. He now holds the record for the highest and the third highest ODI totals ever for a Pakistani with his 210 (Zimbabwe, 2018) and 193 (South Africa, 2021) only separated by the legendary Saeed Anwar’s 194 against India in Chennai, 1997.
Another incident that has sparked controversy took place in the 47th over of the same game, when South African captain Temba Bavuma dropped Zaman’s catch, only for the ball to then hit his hat, which had fallen on the field. This should’ve resulted in the Pakistan team being awarded five runs, in line with the rules, but the umpires seemed to have missed it.
In the cricket rule book, Law 28.2.2 states 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." Had Pakistan been granted the five runs, we would have entered the final over needing just 26 runs off it, and fans argue that the game could have ended very differently.
But despite how outraged his fans may be, Zaman takes full responsibility for getting out. "The fault was mine as I was too busy looking out for 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 told ESPN Cricinfo. "The rest is up to the match referee, but I don't think it's Quinton's fault."
It's a difficult loss to swallow, with a commendable battle fought though finishing just short. Pakistan eventually lost the game by 17 runs, and with the additional 11 runs that the fans think we should have gotten, that would've been down to six. That six makes the game feel whiskers away, had the "legal" runs been granted. We understand you're hurt Pakistan, but with Zaman owning part of his mistake, and the series still drawn at 1-1, we have much to look forward to, and much to look beyond.