Fakhar Zaman took responsibility for his contentious run-out, which saw him miss out on a richly-deserved double century in the second ODI against South Africa on Sunday.
The Pakistan opener's splendid innings ended on 193 on the first ball of the final over. A direct hit from Aiden Markram from long-off caught Zaman short of his crease at the striker's end.
Controversy erupted when South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was seen on camera, gesturing as if the throw was going to the non-striker's end. Fakhar Zaman stuttered to his crease but was well short. However, Fakhar Zaman chose to not blame De Kock, saying it was his own error of judgment.
"The fault was mine, as I was too busy looking out for Haris Rauf at the other end, as I felt he started off a little late from his crease, so I thought he was in trouble. The rest is up to the match referee, but I don't think it's Quinton's fault," said Fakhar Zaman after the game.
De Kock's intentions were almost impossible to ascertain. He might as well have genuinely asked Markram to throw at the non-striker's end. But the throw came at his end and caused a furore on social media, with many accusing De Kock of going against the spirit of the game.
If De Kock's actions had been construed to be deliberate, the hosts would have been slapped five penalty runs and the ball had to be re-bowled. MCC's Law 41.5.1 states that "it is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball".
"It was clever from Quinny" - Temba Bavuma on Fakhar Zaman's run-out
Requiring 32 off the last over in their chase of 342, Pakistan faced an improbable task of winning the game, and Fakhar Zaman's run-out was the final nail in their coffin. South Africa eventually won the game by 17 runs, levelling the three-match series at one game apiece.
Fakhar Zaman's 193 came off just 155 balls and included 18 fours and ten sixes. He waged a lone battle, as none of the other Pakistani batsmen made even 40. Babar Azam's 31 was the second-best knock of the visitors' innings.
Winning captain Temba Bavuma also commented on the incident. Bavuma didn't find anything wrong in De Kock's actions and instead called it a 'clever' piece of work.
"It was quite clever from Quinny. Maybe some people might criticise it for maybe not being in the spirit of the game. But it was an important wicket for us. Zaman was getting close to our target. Yeah it was clever from Quinny. You've always got to look for ways especially when things are not going your way, got to find ways to turn momentum around. Quinny did that - I don't think he broke the rules in any kind of way. It was a clever piece of cricket," said Bavuma.
Pakistan and South Africa meet in the third ODI on Wednesday in Centurion.