In the opening Test against South Africa, India faced consequences for bowling two overs short, resulting in a slow over-rate during the Boxing Day Test match at Supersport Park in Centurion. The ICC penalized India by docking two World Test Championship points and imposing a 10% fine on the match fees for each player. The slow over-rate violation occurred as India succumbed to a defeat by an innings and 32 runs, being bowled out for 131 in their second innings.

This penalty dropped India to the fifth spot in the World Test Championship points table. Chris Broad, a member of the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees, administered the sanction after India was found to be two overs short of the target. Captain Rohit Sharma admitted to the offense and accepted the proposed sanction, eliminating the need for a formal hearing.

“Rohit Sharma’s side has been docked two crucial ICC World Test Championship points in the opening Test against South Africa for bowling two overs short and has also been fined 10% of their match fee,” ICC stated in a release.

The charge was leveled by on-field umpires Paul Reiffel and Langton Rusere, along with third umpire Ahsan Raza and fourth umpire Stephen Harris. As per Article 2.22 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which addresses minimum over-rate offenses, players are fined 5% of their match fee for every over their team fails to bowl within the allotted time.

Following the Test loss to South Africa, India’s position in the ICC World Test Championship standings weakened. Initially at No. 5 with 16 points from three Tests and a points percentage of 44.44, the deduction of points for the slow-over rate violation caused them to slip to No. 6 below Australia. Their revised standing is now with 14 points and a points percentage of 38.89.

In the Test match at Centurion, India found themselves outplayed in all departments. Despite a brilliant knock by KL Rahul on the first day, South Africa gradually built a significant lead from Day 2 onwards. Dean Elgar’s 185 and Marco Jansen’s career-best 84* propelled the hosts to 408 in their first innings. Captain Rohit Sharma acknowledged that the pitch wasn’t a 400-wicket, and that’s where the game slipped away from India. The team’s second innings performance, lasting only 34.1 overs on Day 3 with only Virat Kohli’s fluent 76-run knock standing out, raised concerns for the team management.

India’s pacers, excluding Jasprit Bumrah, faced disappointment. Debutant Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur were particularly taken to the cleaners by the South African batters.

Despite arriving in South Africa with hopes of winning their first-ever series on the Rainbow Nation, the series opener defeat means that the best India can now achieve is to level the series by winning the New Year’s Test in Cape Town. The team faces challenges in various aspects and will need a comprehensive turnaround to salvage the series.

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