AFP/Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal denied tampering with the ball by using a sweet in his pocket yesterday before rescuing his team in partnership with Kusal Mendis on the fourth day of the second Test against the West Indies.
Following the controversy of day three, when the start of play was delayed by two hours with the Sri Lankan captain refusing to lead his team onto the field for the continuation of the West Indies first innings, the International Cricket Council confirmed a charge of “altering the condition of the ball” – effectively ball tampering – against Chandimal.
Match officials charged Chandimal after television footage from the final session’s play on Friday appeared to show the captain taking sweets out from his left pocket and putting these in his mouth, before applying the artificial substance to the ball which the umpires viewed as an attempt to change its condition.
Chandimal will face a hearing at the end of the Test today.
The allegations echoed a 2016 controversy when South Africa captain, Faf du Plessis, was fined 100 per cent of his match fee after being caught on camera applying sugary saliva from a mint in his mouth to the ball during a Test in Australia.
It is understood that the Sri Lankans were angered by the umpires, Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, only informing them of the charge and applying a five-run penalty just ten minutes before the scheduled start of play on Saturday.
It resulted in lengthy discussions involving match referee Javagal Srinath and Sri Lankan team officials and an intervention by Sri Lanka Cricket authorities in Colombo before the tourists took to the field for the continuation of the match.
SLC confirmed support of their players in a subsequent release - saying their team was continuing the Test “under protest” - while Chandimal has formally denied the charge as laid by the umpires.
Despite being at the centre of the storm, the Sri Lankan skipper put aside that immense distraction in supporting the in-form Kusal Mendis in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 88 runs that lifted the visitors from the depths of 48 for four to 136 without further loss at the lunch interval yesterday.
Trailing in the three-match series after losing the first Test in Trinidad by 226 runs, Sri Lanka lead by 89 runsand will be looking to Mendis (53 not out) and Chandimal (27 not out) to carry their effort deep into the afternoon session.
Both have had their moments of luck.
Mendis touched a leg-side delivery from Jason Holder through to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich when on 14 but was reprieved as the West Indies captain had overstepped the front crease.
Shannon Gabriel, who appeared to have solved his perennial no-ball problem in his first innings haul of five for 59, committed the indiscretion again when he should have had Chandimal, on 21, fending a lifting delivery to Shai Hope at gully.
That incident actually would not have transpired had the West Indies reviewed a not out verdict by umpire Gould to a leg-before appeal by Gabriel to Chandimal just two deliveries earlier.
Television replays showed that the on-field decision would have been reversed with a challenge from Holder.
Yet all was going the way of the West Indies at the start of the day with Gabriel lifting his innings haul to three and match haul to eight with the wickets of nightwatchman Kasun Rajitha and Dhananjaya de Silva in quick succession.
Kemar Roach then had opener Mahela Udawatte caught at cover and from their overnight position of 34 for one, Sri Lanka were in danger of being obliterated given that they were just one run ahead of the West Indies at that stage.
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