Unlike football, cricket doesn’t have red cards or yellow cards to be offered for disciplinary actions on the ground. However, in case of any unfair incidences occurring in the field, the umpires can intervene and give 5 penalty runs to the concerned side.
Laws 41 and 42 empowers the umpires to award five penalty runs for any action that he judges unfair.
For Level 1 offenses the umpire will warn the team first, and award penalties on any repeat occurrence by them. From Level 2 offenses onwards no warning is given before adjudging the penalty.
Let's look at 3 incidents where the umpires awarded penalty runs in international cricket.
1. Virender Sehwag kicks the ball on to the boundary ropes
During the second test against South Africa at Kolkata in 2010, the Proteas were 9 wickets down and Hashim Amla played the ball which stopped just near the boundary ropes. In order to keep Amla out of strike for the next over, Virender Sehwag intentionally kicked the ball onto the ropes. But umpire Steve Davis didn’t find this impressive and South Africa were awarded 5 runs as a penalty.
2. Faf Du Plessis rubs the ball with trouser zipper
During the Second Test against Pakistan in Dubai, in 2013, following television visuals of Du Plessis rubbing the ball near the zipper of his trouser pocket, the TV umpire bought it to the attention of on-field umpires Ian Gould and Rod Tucker, who called Graeme Smith for a chat and subsequently changed the ball and awarded a five-run penalty against South Africa. He was also fined 50% of the match fee although the team management called the reference to tampering as ‘’harsh’’.
3. Mahendra Singh Dhoni drops the ball onto his glove on the ground
MS Dhoni’s art of deflecting the ball on to the stumps has often produced wickets for India at crucial times. But, in the 2017 Champions trophy semi-finals against Bangladesh, when he tried to repeat the same, the ball missed the stumps and rolled onto the pitch where he had dropped one of his gloves.
In fact, this wasn’t the first time Dhoni has conceded 5 penalty runs in international cricket. He had made those mistakes on 4 more occasions, which makes him the player who has conceded penalty runs most times in International cricket. (a record shared along with Parthiv Patel)