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South Africa's Faf du Plessis has been fined 50 percent of his match fee after pleading guilty to tampering with the ball during the ongoing second Test against Pakistan in Dubai, the ICC said Saturday.
South Africa were penalised five runs and umpires ordered the ball to be changed on Friday, and match referee David Boon of Australia swiftly summoned du Plessis.
"Du Plessis is fined 50 percent of his match fee after breaching the ICC code of conduct on Friday," the International Cricket Council (ICC) said.
The 29-year-old is the first South African to be charged with ball tampering.
The incident took place in the 31st over of Pakistan's second innings on Friday afternoon when du Plessis was seen on television rubbing the ball in the vicinity of the zip of his trouser pocket, the ICC said.
Boon said: "After discussions with du Plessis, he has elected not to contest that charge, but I am also satisfied that this was not part of a deliberate and/or prolonged attempt to unfairly manipulate the condition of the ball, and that the imposition of a fine of 50 percent of his match fee is appropriate considering the circumstances."
The ICC statement said: "The TV umpire Paul Reiffel brought this to the notice of the on-field umpires who, in accordance with clause 42.1.1 of the ICC Test match playing conditions, which deals with the match ball -- changing its condition -- replaced the ball, awarded five penalty runs to Pakistan and reported du Plessis."
South African vice captain AB de Villiers backed du Plessis on Friday, saying: "Honestly, we're not the team that scratches the ball.
"We play in a fair manner. Obviously we want to swing the ball as much as you can and try to get it to reverse. We don't cheat, it's as simple as that.
"I know 'Faffy' very well, he's the last man to try anything like that, it is part of his responsibility to shine the ball and I thought he did it very well."
But former Pakistan players blasted the game's governing body for taking what they saw as overly lenient action against du Plessis, saying a player from the sub-continent would have been banned.
Pakistan's Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi and India's Sachin Tendulkar have all been banned for ball tampering in the past, while Pakistan were docked five runs for tampering during the Oval Test against England in 2006.
"I am surprised at the decision," Akhtar told television. "Even if South Africa wins the Test, this match has become dirty."
Akhtar, who was banned for two one-days and fined 75 percent of his match fee for tampering during a tri-series in Sri Lanka in 2003, said that Pakistan have "no say" in the ICC.
"We can't raise our voice, so this will go on like this," he added.
"How can you give such a lenient decision on such a hard evidence. He should have been banned for six months at least and the captain Graeme Smith should also have been punished," said former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif.
"If you look at the rules, they (ICC) ban the captain on slow over rate but not on ball tampering done in front of the whole world.
"I am sure had it been a Pakistani or a sub-continent player he would have been banned."
But another former captain, Aamir Sohail, believed the punishment was under the rules.
"I don't think its lenient," said Sohail. "The punishment is within the rules and since Du Plessis did not contest the charges you have to show some leniency."