6 Indians hauled, SA aggression ignored
Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2001, 15:52 [IST]
Sachin cleared of ball 'tampering'
Port Elizabeth: In an unprecedented and highly controversial action, six top Indian players including skipper Saurav Ganguly and master batsman Sachin Tendulkar were on November 19 night handed down harsh punishments by the match referee for the second India-South Africa Test here.Sachin Tendulkar, a part time bowler, was found guilty of tampering with the ball and handed down a suspended one-match sentence and fined 75 per cent of his match fee. He will, therefore, be able to play in the third Test but would be banned for one match if he repeats the offence. Denness, who watched video footage of the three-over spell by Tendulkar, was also reported to have consulted the International Cricket Council (ICC) in London in this regard. It was learnt that no charges were being pressed against Tendulkar either by the umpires on the field or by the South African side. A key batsman Virender Sehwag was suspended for the third Test to be played at Centurion Park from November 24 on the charge of excessive appealing. This means that Sehwag, who made a century on his debut in the first Test against South Africa, will miss the final match of the series. Former England captain Mike Denness, who is the match referee for the entire series, is believed to have conveyed these decisions to the Indian team management after two meetings with Sachin Tendulkar, who had been accused of tampering with the ball during a three-over spell against South Africa on November 19. Denness summoned Ganguly, who was accused of failing to control his players, as also four other Indian players (Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Shiv Sunder Das and wicket- keeper Deep Dasgupta) on the charge of excessive appealing. Denness, who consulted ICC headquarters in London during the day, is expected to formally announce his decisions on November 20 but sources in the Indian camp disclosed the unprecedented sentences imposed by him. Ganguly was given a suspended sentence for one Test match and two One-dayers. He is therefore eligible to play but could be banned for these matches if he repeated the offence of not controlling his players. Harbhajan, Das and Dasgupta have also been found guilty of excessive appealing and slammed with a suspended sentence for one Test. They have also been fined 75 per cent of their match fees. Sehwag, who was the worst-hit by the match referee's action, was found guilty of excessive appealing when South African captain Shaun Pollock played forward to spinner Anil Kumble during the play on Sunday. Sehwag had caught the ball, which apparently came off Pollock's boots and had kept appealing for a catch. Denness ignored Pollock's own conduct on Sunday when he made a prolonged and theatrical appeal against the top-scorer in India's first innings V V S Laxman. Pollock had hit Laxman's pads and made a vociferous appeal to the umpire who took a long time to raise his finger. The Indian team management was not available for comment on the match referee's excesses but a wave of anger swept the Indian camp. The reported decision of the referee came at the end of a flip-flop earlier in the day. He had apparently told a television commentator that no action was warranted against Tendulkar and this was announced on television. Subsequently he said he would consult ICC in London and make a formal statement in the evening. The suspended sentences against the Indian players are valid till December 31, which means that they would face the punishments handed down if they repeated the offences by that date. Before December 31, India is to play the final Test of the current series against South Africa as well as three Test matches against England at home.