Will 195 runs be sufficient? © Getty Images
Will 195 runs be sufficient? © Getty Images

Despite the reluctance of Misbah-ul-Haq and Virat Kohli to make sides bat again, even the most casual cricket fan is aware of the concept of the follow-on. Since you are reading this I can safely assume you are more than the basic cricket fan, but there is no harm quoting Law 13.1 (what if you are here as an outcome of some inexplicable cataclysm?):

(a) In a two-innings match of 5 days or more, the side which bats first and leads by at least 200 runs shall have the option of requiring the other side to follow their innings.
(b) The same option shall be available in two innings matches of shorter duration with the minimum leads as follows.
- 150 runs in a match of 3 or 4 days;
- 100 runs in a 2-day match;
- 75 runs in a 1-day match.

This sounds crystal clear. The minimum difference between scores required to make a side bat again has changed over years (it used to be as low as 80 between 1854 and 1894). Till 1900 it was not even optional: in other words, sides were forced to follow-on if they finished short of the target. Misbah or Kohli would not have approved of that.

But let us move on. Let us assume a five-day match, which would make the minimum margin 200. Team A bat first and score 450. Team B obviously need 251 to avoid the follow-on. They reach 250 for 9, bringing the match to an exciting phase.

At this stage Patil, a batsman from B, pushes a ball and sets off. He gets the all-important run but gets run out while attempting a second. In other words, B are all out for exactly 251, which means A have to bat again.

However, there is a catch (no, not the kind that is supposed to win a match). Patil had earlier run on the ‘danger area’ of the pitch during the course. The umpires had warned Patil and his partner, the innocent Patel (because Law 42.14.a.i says so), and had also informed both captains.

Unfortunately, Patil goes on to repeat his ‘sin’ with the score on 250 for 9. He runs on the ‘danger area’ again. As the umpires come off, they do not have an option but to award 5 penalty runs to A.

Note: Ravindra Jadeja had faced this in the Indore Test against New Zealand in 2016-17. He was also docked half his match fee. However, the match situation was not as convoluted at that point. 

Let us return to the match now. The players have not yet taken field. A’s lead has now stretched from 199 to 204.

Should A be eligible to enforce the follow-on?

What do you think?