| Sourav Ganguly during the rain-delay at the Gabba on Friday
Brisbane: Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly could face a one-Test ban if his team does not improve its over-rate dramatically in Australiaís first innings in the first Test at The Gabba.
India are presently nine overs short of the required over-rate and according to the ICC rule-book, if a fielding side is behind by more than five overs, 10 per cent of each playerís gross match fee as well as 20 per cent of the captainís fee is liable to be deducted.
But the rule-book also empowers the Match Referee to enforce a Level Two offence of the Code of Conduct against the fielding captain. This means docking up to 50 per cent of the match fee or a one-Test ban on the captain. Sourav is conscious of the slow over rate and instructed his fielders to run between overs during the 90 minutes of play possible on the second day on Friday.
The issue was serious enough for Match Referee Mike Procter to call Sourav at the lunch break and tell him of the dangers that lay ahead.
Sourav admitted that the over-rate was slow on Thursday but hoped they would be able to bring it down below the five-over mark. ďAt present we are just seven overs short, thatís what Procky told me. We would definitely try to bring it to at least five overs short or thereabouts,Ē he said.
The Indian skipper confessed that he knew the real danger was for him only, as the captain was liable to be fined and suspended.
Former Australian captain Greg Chappell said it was the worst over-rate he had probably seen in his career.
ďItís always difficult when the conditions are wet and youíve certainly got to make sure the ball is dry but to be nine down at the end of the day is probably as bad as Iíve seen,Ē he said.
Chappell though took care to defend the Indian captain who flew down a few months ago to take batting lessons from the Australian master on how to play short-pitched bowling. ďI donít think it was a deliberate tactic. Itís more about the mental attitude and they need to be aware that by letting it slow down, they are taking themselves down into a never-ending spiral,Ē Chappell said.
Sourav is aware of Procterís tough reputation as a Match Referee and would hate to get on the wrong side of the rules, lest he opens himself to a severe punishment. Procter has acted against the Indians in the past on slow over-rate, docking Sourav and his men 35 per cent of their match fee against New Zealand in the Hamilton Test earlier this year. (PTI)