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Hair raises a storm

india Updated: Aug 21, 2006 01:02 IST

The fourth Test between England and Pakistan descended into farce on Sunday as first Pakistan, then the umpires, failed to return to the field after tea on the fourth day following a ball-tampering storm.

Pakistan's players, on course for a face-saving win in the four-match series, had been stunned during the afternoon at The Oval when Darrell Hair and fellow umpire Billy Doctrove imposed a five-run penalty for ball tampering and changed the ball. Play continued until tea, with England on 298 for four in their second innings and still 33 runs shy of making Pakistan bat again, when the fiasco exploded.

Hair, who has been involved in several controversies with teams from the subcontinent in the past, and Doctrove walked out to the middle alone, then returned to the pavilion for further discussions as Pakistan's players remained in the dressing rooms.

The umpires walked out again 15 minutes later, this time followed by England batsmen Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, but Pakistan again failed to show. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was clearly visible reading a newspaper without his pads on. The bails were then removed and the covers brought on as the crowd began to boo and jeer.

Top officials from the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board then met to discuss the situation. Things took a new turn around 45 minutes after the scheduled restart when Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq led Pakistan out, then straight back in as the umpires this time stayed away.

Umpires have the right to award a match to the opposition if they deem a side had refused to continue playing. Earlier, England were earlier given an extra five runs after the umpires ruled that the ball had been tampered with by Pakistan during the afternoon session. Reuters