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Slow over-rates: Pakistan's Achilles heel
Pakistan tour of Ireland & UK

Slow over-rates: Pakistan's Achilles heel

Pakistan were fined for maintaining slow over-rate for the fifth time in Tests in the last two years following their emphatic nine-wicket win against England at Lord’s on Sunday.

ICC match referee Jeff Crowe imposed the fine after Sarfraz Ahmed’s side was ruled three overs short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration. Even though the game ended inside three days and a session, Sarfraz was fined 60 percent of his match fees whereas the remaining ten players were docked 30 percent fines.

It is Pakistan’s fifth over-rate offence in 14 Tests outside Asia in the last two years. The green caps have struggled to operate in the conditions where spinners are not used for too many overs. Pakistan have not been fined for a slow over rate offence in Asia in any format in the last two years. All the offences have come in Australia, England or New Zealand.

The former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was fined for maintaining slow over-rate in Tests on three occasions – against England at the Oval, against New Zealand at Hagley Oval and against Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2016. He was also suspended for a Test against New Zealand in Hamilton.

Azhar Ali – who led Pakistan in his absence in Hamilton – was fined 100 percent of his match fee for being five overs short of the target. Later, he was also suspended from a one-day international for making two over-rate offences as captain of the Pakistan ODI team.

If Sarfraz repeats the offence in the next twelve months, he will be handed a Test match ban. Pakistan have an important season coming up where they are scheduled to play five Tests against Australia and New Zealand in the UAE in October and November this year. That will be followed by three Tests in South Africa in December and January.

In the last two years, ICC have penalised the teams for maintaining slow over-rate on nine occasions. Five of those occasions belong to Pakistan, three to Windies and one to South Africa.

Across all international cricket since 2016, Pakistan have been docked for being slugging on the field on eight occasions – one day internationals in Auckland, Adelaide and Cardiff being the other three instances – which is most for any team.

India have been the most disciplined side in this period. Not even once have they trespassed in 116 international matches played under four different captains – MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane – since 2016. India, in fact, haven’t been found guilty of any over-rate offence in four years – the last being against England at the Oval in 2014.

The over rate offence at Lord’s will worry Pakistan. The team was found three overs short despite the fact that there was only one no-ball. Previously, it was perceived that the over rate was an issue because of excessive overstepping. A case in point is Wahab Riaz bowling 12 no-balls against England at the Oval in 2016 which equates to two extra overs.

Pakistan players receive match fees according to their central contract categories and according to an estimate the players have paid about 80 lakh rupees fine due to being lazy on the field.

The coach Mickey Arthur was unhappy with the ill-discipline when the issue was raised two years ago.

"Our players are giving away all their cash and we've had a captain suspended because of it," Arthur had said of the over-rate struggles before Pakistan’s series against Australia in Brisbane in 2016.

"We've just got to be better than that, we have to get through our overs and there's a constant reminder all the time that we have to get through our overs.”