WI vs SL: First ODI turns ugly after Danushka Gunathilaka’s rare dismissal, watch

Sri Lanka went down to West Indies by eight wickets in the first ODI in Antigua on Wednesday (March 10) but the game wasn’t without its share of controversy. Lankan opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka was unfortunate to walk back after a rare dismissal – obstructing the field – when he was going strong in the middle.  

Gunathilaka had scored 55 and put on 105 in an opening stand with captain Dimuth Karunaratne, which seemed to put Sri Lanka on course to a commanding total after losing the toss and batting first. Karunaratne was out for 52, caught and bowled by West Indies captain Kieron Pollard with his second delivery. 

But the match turned ugly when, in the 21st over, Gunathilaka was judged to have obstructed the field when he trod on the ball while Pollard was attempting to affect a run out. Pollard bowled a short ball which Gunathilaka fended away. 

Pathum Nissanka set off for a single but Gunathilaka, after advancing down the pitch, sent him back and stepped back into his own crease. As he did so, he stepped on the ball and knocked it backwards. 

Pollard immediately appealed and on-field umpire Joe Wilson gave a soft signal of out before television umpire Nigel Guguid ruled that Gunathilaka had deliberately attempted to foil the run out. There seemed to be little evidence the batsman had acted deliberately. 

Here’s the video of the dismissal…

The Marylebone Cricket Club, guardians of the Laws of cricket, said: “The key part of the obstructing the field Law (37.2/37.3) is intent – which can be hard to judge. If the obstruction is wilful, it will be out, but if it’s accidental then it will be not out.” 

The Sri Lanka innings lost its way from that point and from 112/2, the visitors were bundled out for 232 in 49 overs. The West Indies surpassed that total with Shai Hope making 110 and his opening partner Evin Lewis adding 65. 

Sri Lanka’s director of cricket and former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody slammed the decision to send back Gunathilaka.

“We got a nice start but we lost a couple of wickets,” Karunaratne said. “In the end we were short of 30-40 runs. If me and Danushka could have batted longer it would have been a different story,” he added. 

Pollard acknowledged the dismissal of the Sri Lanka openers in quick succession changed the course of the innings and the match. “They were 100 without loss and we were looking at a chase of 300,” Pollard said. 

Pollard was seen patching things up at the end of the match with Gunathilaka.

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Sagar Biswas

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