Danyal Rasool in Centurion
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed steadfastly maintained Azhar Ali had taken a “clear catch” to dismiss Dean Elgar in the opening hour of the third day. With South Africa wobbling at 16 for 1 in a chase of 149, having lost Aiden Markram early and dropped Hashim Amla on a morning when Pakistan’s pacers were in full control, Shaheen Afridi drew the outside edge of Dean Elgar in the ninth over. Azhar Ali dived to his right for the catch from first slip, and the soft signal from the on-field umpires was out. Elgar, himself, was prepared to walk, but third umpire Joel Wilson decided he had conclusive evidence to overturn the call.
Sarfraz believed his side had been hard done by, drawing a parallel from the second Australia-India Test in Perth, where Virat Kohli was caught at second slip and the third umpire’s decision stayed with the soft signal (out) because of lack of conclusive evidence to overturn it.
“I think he took a clear catch. If you talk about the other match, if you see the Kohli catch, you see a similar catch given. If the on-field decision is out, I think it should have stayed that way. The umpire said the third umpire had a clearer view of it, so they gave it not-out, but if you compare situations, I think this was a clean catch.”
The rub of the green going the hosts’ way with that decision effectively sealed Pakistan’s fate. Sarfraz’s side could create no further clear-cut chances for the rest of the session, with the Elgar-Amla partnership adding another 103 runs to the score. When Elgar was finally dismissed, he had scored 50 – he was on 4 when the disputed catch was taken – and South Africa needed just 30 further runs to win.
It was a decision that so enraged Mickey Arthur he stormed into Wilson’s office to remonstrate with him in breach of the ICC regulations. Later, an ICC statement said Arthur had received an official warning and fined one demerit point after accepting his guilt in the affair.
“Arthur was found to have violated Article 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to ‘showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during an international match’,” the ICC statement read. “After the match, the Pakistan coach admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee David Boon. As such, there was no need for a formal hearing.”
The series now moves to Cape Town for the second of the three Tests, starting on January 3.