Sri Lanka exhibited the much needed character at Gros Islet, but all the efforts were overshadowed by the ball-tampering controversy…..
The third of second Test at Gros Islet was due to start at 9:30 am local time, half an hours early to make up the loss of time due to rain. But the spectators and television viewers noticed the Sri Lankans did not even take the field as the umpires made their out in the middle. The visitors did come out at 10:50 am at the cost of five penalty runs, which was awarded to West Indies.
Why the Lankans did not take the field in time remained a matter of discussion among the fans and later on an official present at the ground said, “the umpires informed them about the ball change just 10 minutes before the start”. At first, reports suggested, there was no concrete video evidence, but later on, a video footage suggested, Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal was using saliva and a sweet to tamper with the ball and give it more spin. Chandimal pleaded of not guilty, but his statement was unconvincing to match referee Javgal Srinath.
Chandimal has been slapped with a ban for one Test and things might get worse.
I found the incident very disappointing.
The cricketing world already witnessed the mintgate incident downunder two years ago and a few months back, the sandpapergate totally jolted the cricketing fraternity and it was Australia who were left stunned and the side effects are still palpable. Such incidents always give a great opportunity to learn and remain honest as much as possible. But if someone fails to learn from them and repeat the mistakes, foolish would be the right word to describe him.
How could Chandimal attempt such in this era of digitalisation? Only a few eyes are not watching you, but millions of eyes notice what you are doing in the field. The track was aiding the bowlers and in fact, Sri Lankan bowlers were looking confident enough to bag wickets. Then, why Chandimal thought of choosing stupid means, cannot be understood.
Chandimal’s act totally overshadowed the fighting spirit of Sri Lanka, which could have hit the headlines other than this ball tampering controversy. But in this world, the negative news spread like fire and are exaggerated by the media more.
Sri Lanka’s start of this Test match was not something satisfactory. The spine-stiffening and bone-chilling pace of Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach. The wickets kept on tumbling and a below-par performance was on the cards, yet again. But the skipper Chandimal had other ideas – like a Hercules, he faced the fury of Gabriel and Roach to notch-up a classic hundred and gave Sri Lankan total the respectability, which was required to lift up the shoulders.
The second day was hit by rain, while on the third, controversial events spoiled the mood, but the visitors remained as spirited as ever. Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha ensured, the West Indian tail does not wag and kept the lead within their reach.
The Lankans’ start was shaky in their second innings. The skiddy-giant named Gabriel set jitters in the Lankan batting lineup and at 48 for 4, the visitors were in the soup. Stepped up Kusal Mendis and Chandimal, yet again, to resuscitate the tattered innings.
For a brief period, both of them applied caution over aggression and occupied the crease to graft a partnership. Their fifth-wicket stand of 117 made the picture bright, but again, two wickets fell quickly an at 199 for 6, with the lead of just 152 runs, the lower-order was needed to show character to make a match out of it.
Stepped up Niroshan Dickwella and Roshen Silva and useful contributions from Akila Danajaya, Sri Lanka gave West Indies 296 runs to win on the final day. The Sri Lankan bowlers kept on picking up wickets and had inclement weather not interfered, they would have scripted one of the most memorable comebacks.
Still, their exhibition of character at Gros Islet deserve the accolades. They were down and dusted at Port of Spain and were expected to show the hunger and positive intent as a team. As because Chandika Hathurusingha is such a coach, who works on the mental aspect of the players so that they have the abilities to bounce back and defy all the odds to shine brightly.
The Sri Lankans worked as a team and shone brightly amid adversity and surely, a lot of hard work was involved behind this display, but as their hard work started to unfold in Gros Islet, they went out of sync with the news cycle – Chandimal’s ball tampering incident made the fans forget about Sri Lanka’s brilliant temperament, but it should not be forgotten.