Australia's captain Tim Paine was seen in discussion with the umpires after day two of the Abu Dhabi Test, having sought clarification about whether the 3m rule that had denied his side an lbw for the second time in as many matches had any room for tweaking.
The decision to rule Azhar Ali not out on referral, despite the ball-tracking projection showing the ball hitting middle and off stumps halfway up, was largely immaterial to the state of a game that Pakistan are now dominating. But it was clearly a point of some contention to the Australians after they had also been denied an lbw against Haris Sohail in similar circumstances in Dubai.
The rule is in place through a combination of questions about the ability of ball-tracking to project a correct path for an lbw appeal if the point of impact with the pad is more than 3m away from the stumps, and also respect for the opinion of the umpire that a batsman is too far down the pitch for him to confidently rule in favour of the bowler. Australia opener Aaron Finch confirmed that Paine had asked about whether the regulation could be changed if the ball was shown to be going on to hit the stumps as squarely as Jon Holland's appeal appeared to be.
"Yeah it was just a bit of confusion again," Finch said. "Where 3m is down the wicket, if it's still hitting the stumps and hitting in line can we tinker the rule. I know it's sounding sour at the moment because we've been on the receiving end, but it's certainly not. We understand where the rule's at now. but maybe if it's hitting in line and if all three (pitching point, impact with pad, impact with stumps) are still red, maybe there's a chance to overturn it.
"But we've just got to deal with that, it's a part of the game and it's unfortunate that it didn't go our way but that's cricket, and a lot of the time when a team has momentum, them things go their way, and we've certainly been on the back foot. That's through our own doing. We didn't really know about it until last Test, about the three metres. Pitching in line, hitting in line, hitting the stumps - to me that's strange.
"Obviously I understand the element of predicting the path of the ball. That's something that's gone against us a couple of times, but that's the game, that's the rule, and we've just got to deal with it. I honestly haven't thought about it too much. I think as the technology improves ... I think in time it will be 100% accurate, or 99% accurate. Rules like that are always tinkered or changed slightly."
Further complicating the appeal against Azhar Ali was the fact that the ball hit the pad only fractionally before the bat, which would have also factored into umpire S Ravi's on-field decision. The Haris Sohail appeal had seen the batsman not offering a shot, in which case the benefit of the doubt is often said to pass from the batsman to the bowler.
The ICC declined to comment on a decision made in a match still in progress.