Madhya Pradesh's Rajput called for suspect action
After a day on which they dominated beyond expectations, the mood in the Madhya Pradesh camp was quite sombre and centred around one issue: the no-balling of debutant offspinner Ajay Rajput for a suspect action, once each by the on-field umpires K Srinath and R Subramanium. The no-balls came in the 56th and 69th overs of the Saurashtra innings. Rajput did not bowl after completing the latter over, his 11th, and ended with 1 for 17.
Starting with the previous three seasons, the BCCI has been very strict about this matter in domestic cricket and has instructed umpires to no-ball bowlers, who in their opinion have suspect actions, and report them to the board. The BCCI then sends such bowlers for rehabilitation to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
In Rajput's case, the umpires had a problem with his quicker delivery, according to MP coach Mukesh Sahni. Rajput, who has a front-on action, used the delivery liberally during the earlier part of his spell. He then cut down its frequency, and started tossing the ball up more. Sahni also said that Rajput has a natural bend in his arm - a medical certificate to this effect will have to be submitted to the board.
According to the match referee Sanjay Raul, Rajput cannot bowl any more in the innings if he is called once more by the umpires but, till then, it is up to MP captain Devendra Bundela whether to use him or not. Bundela, Rajput and Sahni had a meeting with the umpires and the match referee after the day's play.
The ICC's approach in international cricket to suspect actions differs from that of the BCCI in Indian domestic cricket; international umpires can report a bowler for a dodgy action but, even though they have not been barred from doing so, do not no-ball him on the field. The tolerance limit is 15 degrees of flex, and whether a bowler is transgressing that limit requires sophisticated tests and is extremely difficult to be accurately assessed by the naked eye.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo