Virat Kohli’s “fake fielding” angered Bangladesh wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan after their T20 World Cup Super 12 match – several similar incidents over the years have also sparked controversy when players have pretended to field the ball.

After Bangladesh’s narrow loss to India in a rain affected game in Adelaide, Hasan expressed his annoyance at the umpires not inflicting a five-run penalty for Kohli’s mimed throw to the keeper’s end, the same margin which Bangladesh lost the match by. The “fake-fielding law”, 41.5 in the MCC’s Laws of Cricket, was introduced in 2017. It states: “It is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batter after the striker has received the ball. It is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not.”

Before the Law was introduced, Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara found himself at the centre of controversy when, in a 2013 ODI match against Pakistan, he mimed that he was about to take the bails off in order to induce a dive for the crease from Ahmed Shehzad. Pakistan were batting first in the second ODI after they won the first match of the series, with opener Shehzad going well on 80 in the 35th over. Playing Seekkuge Prasanna to cover, Shehzad took an easy one and turned to return for the second, with the fielder running in from the deep to collect the ball. It was an easy two, but Sangakkara mimed taking the throw from the fielder and knocking the bails of the stumps before the fielder had thrown the ball, inducing a dive from Shehzad.

Sangakkara was clearly attempting to make Shehzad dive for comedy effect, but the Pakistan batter was not amused as he was left sprawled on the floor. It clearly had no long-term effect on Shehzad, who went on to score a century to help his side to a total of 284-4. However, Sri chased the score down with two balls to spare, Sangakkara scoring 58 off 67 balls to level the series. Pakistan went on to win the ODIs 3-2.

A similar incident happened in the 2019 Ashes, where Jonny Bairstow faked taking the ball to deceive Steve Smith and make him dive for his ground. This was also judged to be a humorously intended action, with Steve Smith saying in the press conference after play, “he got me there, didn’t he.”

There was a more serious event in 2021, however, where Quinton de Kock escaped ICC sanction for decieving Fakhar Zaman. This actually led to Fakhar being run out in an ODI in Johannesburg. In the second ODI of Pakistan’s tour of South Africa, Fakhar played an exceptional innings in Pakistan’s chase of 341, and was on 192 going into the final over.

Fakhar had single handedly rescued Pakistan after they collapsed to 205-7 and had smashed 10 sixes to give them an unlikely chance of victory. With six balls left, Pakistan needed thirty to force a super over, an unlikely outcome, but with the form Fakhar was in, not impossible.

Off the first ball of the over, Fakhar drilled the ball to the fielder on the long-off boundary, taking an easy single and looking for a second. Behind the stumps, de Kock pointed towards the non-striker’s end Haris Rauf was running to, signalling that was where the ball was going. Thinking he was safe, Fakhar slowed down to jog up the pitch, only for Aiden Markram’s throw to directly hit the stumps at the striker’s end with Fakhar well short of his ground. Pakistan went on to lose the match by 17 runs.

The incident occured after the fake fielding Law had been introduced. In other words, had the umpires had decided that de Kock had fooled Fakhar into thinking he was not in danger had contradicted the Law, South Africa would have incurred a five-run penalty and the ball would be bowled again. It would therefore have been a much simpler equation for Pakistan from the final over.

Pakistan went on to win the final ODI and take the series 2-1.