Incidents mar third day

Allegations of ball tampering, gamesmanship, poor umpiring and intimidating appealing marked an eventful third day’s play of the Ranji Trophy semifinal between Karnataka and Punjab.

Barely two overs into the first session of the day, umpires decided to change the ball which to everyone’s eyes appeared to have been heavily scuffed up on one side. It had been used for barely 25 overs but it looked like as if it was an 80-over-old ball. The red cherry swung like a banana on Sunday evening when Karnataka lost KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal while Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey struggled to put bat on to ball. Punjab had barely bowled 15 overs when the ball started reversing.

 The Karnataka camp suspected something fishy and even brought it to the notice of match referee Sanjay Patil on Monday morning before the day’s play resumed but fell short of giving a written complaint. The ball was eventually changed but the official reason given was that ‘it had gone out of shape.’ As Karnataka took the lead and strengthened their position, the matter appeared to have died a natural death.

This is the second time that an incident of this nature has surfaced this season. During the quarterfinal between Bengal and Railways in Kolkata, the ball was replaced when umpires Paschim Mukhi and Suresh Shastri found that the condition of the ball had been changed during hosts’ first innings. Railways were warned of a five-run penalty if the mistake were to be repeated.

The game was also marred by poor umpiring by Subrat Das and intimidating appeal by Punjab players, including skipper Harbhajan Singh. Match referee Sanjay Patil took cognisance of the offence and docked 25 per cent of Harbhajan’s match fee. He was charged with Level 1 offence for ‘excessive appealing in aggressive manner.’ 

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