Watch: Azhar Ali got a ball that rolled along the pitch during his second innings hundred against Sussex in the County Championship and couldn’t help himself from having a go at it. Interestingly, it was called both a dead ball and a no ball due to a recent law change.

In their fourth game of the season, Worcestershire had put up 264 in the first innings at their home ground against Sussex, on the back of fifties by Adam Hose, Matthew Waite, and Joe Leach. Sussex then followed it up with a solid reply, scoring 373 and taking a 109-run lead.

Cheteshwar Pujara, the visiting captain, continued his brilliant run of form and top-scored for Sussex with yet another century, scoring 136 runs at a brisk strike rate of 71.95.

Worcestershire started their second innings during the last session of play on Day 2 and finished the day on 34-1, still 75 runs in arrears. The game seemed to be heading towards a result before rain wiped out the entire third day’s play. With chances of victory almost completely gone for the home team, they now had just one objective: bat through the final day and ensure that there is no collapse.

Azhar Ali did exactly that. He batted for more than six hours en route to his match-saving hundred, displaying immense patience and composure against a red-hot Ollie Robinson who snared 14 wickets in the match, ending up with his career-best first-class figures.

Just before he reached his hundred though, he got to face a ball which visibly made his eyes light up. Henry Crocombe came on to bowl his 14th over and the 86th of the innings. After being hit for a boundary on the third ball of the over, Crocombe bowled a ball that didn’t leave his hand on time. It dropped right in front of his feet and rolled along the surface, barely reaching Ali.

After having played out several testing spells by Robinson & Co. for over five hours, Ali didn’t want to let this freebie go. He jumped out of his crease, waited for an eternity for the ball to arrive, and smashed it through the cover region, much to the amusement of everyone around.

It didn’t fetch him any runs though, except for the two runs penalty runs which are awarded for a no-ball in the County Championship. This is because according to MCC’s new Code of Laws, altered from October 1, 2022, Law 21.8 states that “a ball that requires the striker to leave the pitch in order to play it, has to be declared a no-ball first, and then a dead ball immediately after”, which is what the umpire did in this case.

Both teams shook hands as soon as Ali reached his hundred and the match ended in a draw.

Watch Azhar Ali smashing the carpet ball