The series opener at Eden Gardens was a blockbuster. Although the game ended in a draw, it had enough drama and intensity to spice up the competition. Despite the majority of the first two days being heavily interrupted by incessant rains and bad light, the match went down to the wire with Sri Lanka saving the Test by a whisker.
Till the final day, the Test was surrounded by talks related mostly to the sporting Eden wicket, which sprung a surprise to many. But the final session was a great exhibition of Test cricket. Prior to the start of the series, not many gave Sri Lanka a chance to even put up a fight forget about winning against the top Test side. But, Sri Lanka defied all the odds and earned accolades for doing well with both, bat and ball in the first innings.
The final session of Day 5 saw a lot of action and drama between players from both the sides. When India declared just at the stroke of Tea, only one result looked possible, a draw. But Indian seamers made early inroads and their side sniffed a win. At Tea, Sri Lanka were precariously placed at 8 for 2, which raised hopes for India. In the final session, India needed eight wickets to register an emphatic win while Sri Lanka’s primary goal would have been to play out the entire session. The target was highly implausible for Sri Lanka to chase and they only had one option in hand – save the Test.
Just when things were getting close, and time running out, Sri Lankan players were seen taking more time than usual at the crease. Kolkata has shorter days during this time of the year and the light fades early. Sri Lanka had lost early wickets and were in a precarious situation whereas India were just tightening the noose around them.
The physio came to the ground more often. Niroshan Dickwella was the centre of attraction for his antics on the field to delay the whole process and wasted precious time. Dickwella and Mohammed Shami also exchanged few heated words on the wicket, which attracted enormous attention. Dickwella’s antics also didn’t please skipper Virat Kohli as every minute was crucial for India.
U know u r an absolute expert in “time wasting” when u even get the umpires and the opposition captain involved in ur time wasting strategy. No fake injuries, no drinks breaks. #genius @NiroshanDikka 😆 #INDvSL pic.twitter.com/tC74gtAFNN
— Cham J (@Uppercut07) November 20, 2017
The social media handles were trolling Sri Lanka for this behaviour and many also stated that the transforming side has lost a heavy chunk of respect with this act. The question is: Were Sri Lanka unfair in using time-wasting tactic? Well, the answer to this question could be tricky, but most of the team in the world might have done that had they been in that position. Sri Lanka needed to save the Test at any cost, and they gave it all to do so.
If given opportunity, Dickwella would have crawled till the pavilion just to waste time#IndvSL
— Monica (@monicas004) November 20, 2017
In my personal opinion, whatever Sri Lanka did was completely reasonable looking at the situation they were in. Besides, time-wasting tactics also spice up and add intensity, which is great to watch. Players do fathom that this has been the part of the game. It’s just about being on the other side. And one won’t be wrong in saying, that cricket has never been a gentlemen’s game. Also, the umpires did step up and asked the dressing room players to get back when it was going overboard.
— SAGAR (@sagarcasm) November 20, 2017
India’s opening batsman KL Rahul spoke about the incident in the post-match press conference and termed it fair. He rightly understood the kind of situation Sri Lanka were in and agreed to have done the same thing if India were in those boots. Perhaps, the heated words exchanged on the field was in the heat of the moment
Rahul said, “That’s how the game is played. Nobody wants to lose a game. These are tricks of the trade and are used by every team. Nothing unfair about it. It’s a tricky thing. If we were in a situation like that, I am sure we would have done the same thing. That’s how the game is played, nobody wants to lose the game. These tricks of the trades are played by every team. There’s nothing unfair about it.”
Dickwella earned praise from legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene for his tactics. Jayawardene also spoke about Kohli’s brilliant knock on his Twitter handle. Kohli replied to his tweet saying, “Yes, Test cricket at it’s best, on to the next one now.”
— Mahela Jayawardena (@MahelaJay) November 20, 2017
This is not the first time, where a team has used time-wasting tactic to save a Test. The miraculous save by James Anderson and Monty Panesar in Cardiff 2009, also had a fair share of time-wasting tactic in it. It’s just a part of the game and strategy, which could be overlooked. And the match officials are always there to decide and take appropriate action.
Was Sri Lanka right in using the time-wasting tactic in the Eden Test? Well, there is no right or wrong there, it’s mostly about one’s perception. These tactics have been associated with the game since the start and will continue to be.