Why did India get 5 penalty runs vs England?

The third Test between India and England is currently in progress at the Niranjan Shah Stadium in Rajkot and the hosts made news for getting 5 penalty runs on Friday. The hosts, after opting to bat first, posted 445 runs on the board in their first innings thanks to centuries from Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. India were bowled out on the second day but then what sought everyone’s attention was England’s score even before the ball was bowled.

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Why were India given 5 penalty runs?

5 penalty runs
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The visitors began their innings at 5-0 and that raised many eyebrows. India were given 5 penalty runs during the first innings after Ravichandran Ashwin ran on the protected area of the pitch in the first session of the second day’s play.

The incident happened in the 102nd over of the day when Ashwin looked to take a single before being returned by his partner Dhruv Jurel. He took a few steps for a run during that period and walked back to his crease and it was at this time that he ran on the middle of the pitch.


Ravindra Jadeja had already received the first and final warning in the final session on Day 1 for the same reason. The law related to the protected area of the pitch states that “area of the pitch contained within a rectangle bounded at each end by imaginary lines parallel to the popping creases and 5 ft/1.52 m in front of each, and on the sides by imaginary lines, one each side of the imaginary line joining the centres of the two middle stumps, each parallel to it and 1 ft/30.48 cm from it”.

Interestingly, former England captain Alastair Cook also alleged Ashwin of deliberately running on the flat pitch. He also called it a ‘tactical ploy’ from the India off-spinner who completed his 500th Test wicket by picking England’s first wicket of the innings.

“Is it deliberate? Yes, it is. It's a tactical ploy that you can disturb the middle of the wicket because Ashwin wants as much help [as possible] when he can bowl. Normally, it happens in the third innings. You're 150-200 runs ahead and you think, ‘Just make sure you get up and down the wicket'… that was gamesmanship there, wasn't it?” Cook said on TNT Sports.

As far as the law is concerned, the umpires properly followed the protocol and having given the first and final warning to the batter on the opening day, they penalised India for five runs.

“It is unfair to cause deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch. If the striker enters the protected area in playing or playing at the ball, he/she must move from it immediately thereafter. A batter will be deemed to be causing avoidable damage if either umpire considers that his/her presence on the pitch is without reasonable cause.

“If either batter causes deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch, other than as in 41.15, at the first instance the umpire seeing the contravention shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire of the occurrence. The bowler's end umpire shall then warn both batters that the practice is unfair and indicate that this is a first and final warning. This warning shall apply throughout the innings. The umpire shall so inform each incoming batter, inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

“If there is any further instance of deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch by any batter in that innings, the umpire seeing the contravention shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire of the occurrence. The bowler's end umpire shall disallow all runs to the batting side, return any not out batter to his/her original end, signal no-ball or wide to the scorers if applicable, and award 5 penalty runs to the fielding side,” the law 41.14 reads which relate to batters damaging the pitch.


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