Former England captain alleges Ravichandran Ashwin of deliberately running on pitch in Rajkot


The Test match in Rajkot has taken a contentious turn, not only on account of the play but due to an incidental breach of cricket rules which resulted in a five-run penalty against India. The occurrence transpired during England’s first innings, wherein a peculiar sight greeted fans: England’s scoreboard already marked with five runs without a delivery being faced. This consequence stemmed from an action by India’s Ravichandran Ashwin on the second day, as he was found running on the middle of the pitch, a violation of cricket’s code of conduct.

Incidentally, this was not the first instance of such an infraction in the match, as Ravindra Jadeja too had received a warning for a similar misdemeanor on the opening day. Following the rulebook, which precisely defines the off-limits rectangle around the middle wicket, the on-field umpires imposed the penalty during India’s gameplay—a punitive measure that saw India’s first innings total of 445 diminishing by a quintet of runs.

Interestingly, the incident sparked an immediate and hotly debated reaction from former England skipper Alastair Cook, who blatantly accused Ashwin of intentionally running on the pitch to manipulate the condition of the surface, seeking to gain a tactical advantage. As a seasoned player, Cook identified this maneuver as gamesmanship—usually observed, according to him, in the third innings when teams aim to disintegrate the pitch to exploit the wear and tear to the bowling side’s benefit. Cook, contributing his analysis on TNT Sports, could not help but discern intent behind Ashwin’s steps, perceiving it as strategy over accidental infringement.

While the stir surrounding Ashwin’s actions brewed off-field, on the pitch, the match unfolded differently to the expected script. With a layer of controversy now lining the field, England initiated their batting response to India’s stout first innings with vigor and offensive flair. Amidst the echoes of rules, penalties, and allegations, England’s Ben Duckett took the helm of the English retaliation, unleashing a 39-ball half-century. The England team blasted past the hundred-run milestone in merely 18 overs, setting a robust pace in their innings, while the pitch, undergoing scrutiny following the incident, continued displaying an eerily flat and docile persona.

Despite the commiserations about the pitch, day two did reveal instances where the ball’s behavior projected a different story—one of low bounce and unexpected turns, moments which teased the English batsmen and hinted at potential assistance for the Indian spin contingent, although no substantial aid seemed forthcoming from the surface.

While the cricketing action continues to entertain and offer moments of brilliance, the dialogue off-field echoes Ashwin’s actions and Cook’s accusations—where the lines between competitive instinct, strategy, and fair play appear shrouded in the shadow of contest and contention. As it stands, the query posited by Cook concerning Ashwin’s run—whether a simple misstep or a devised stratagem—remains a subject of debate, albeit one that brews in the backdrop of a Test match still unfolding its plot, leaving spectators and analysts to dissect every move on and beyond the crease.

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