India face ICC sanction over 'Poor' Nagpur pitch

NEW DELHI: Indian cricket authorities face a fine of up to $15,000 after the pitch used for the spin-dominated third test between India and South Africa in Nagpur was rated as "poor" by match referee Jeff Crowe, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Tuesday.

Forty wickets tumbled in three days at the VCA Stadium as India beat South Africa by 124 runs with more than two days to spare in the low-scoring contest to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

"Jeff Crowe submitted his report to the ICC, expressing the concerns of the match officials over the performance of the pitch," the ICC said in a statement.

The report has been forwarded to the Indian cricket board (BCCI), which now has 14 days to respond.

After that, ICC general manager of cricket Geoff Allardice and chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle will rule whether the pitch was poor and whether it warrants a penalty.

ICC rules decree that if they confirm that the pitch was "poor", a warning can be issued and/or "a fine not exceeding $15,000 (imposed), with a directive for appropriate corrective action".

The Nagpur pitch offered prodigious turn from day one, prompting Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell to call it "diabolical", while former Australia opener Matthew Hayden termed it a "Bunsen burner" -- slang for a turner.

Indian opener Murali Vijay's first-innings 40 was the highest individual score in the test, in which South Africa mustered just 79 in the first innings and lost all 20 wickets in the match to spinners.

Visiting captain Hashim Amla said the Nagpur track was the "toughest" he had faced in his test career, but assistant coach Adrian Birrell refused to blame the pitches for the team's series defeat.

"We're not complaining at all," Birell told reporters at the Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium, in Delhi, on Tuesday ahead of the fourth and final test, which begins on Thursday.

"We're playing in India and we're playing in Indian conditions. We relish the opportunity. Unfortunately, we've not played to our full potential."