West Indian captain Kieron Pollard apologised to Sri Lankan batsman Danushka Gunathilaka after getting him dismissed ‘Obstructing the Field’ in the first ODI between the two teams at North Sound on Wednesday, March 10. The controversial appeal and the subsequent dismissal had sparked off a fierce debate on social media among former cricketers, fans, pundits and analysts.
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Gunathilaka stated that Pollard had apologised to him after the match and only realised his mistake after watching the replays in the videos in which he found the Sri Lankan batsman not to be guilty. “He apologized, he told me he didn’t see that properly at that time & only after he saw the video he realised I didn’t do anything,” said Gunathilaka.
West Indies Cricket also shared some pictures of the two players having a friendly chat with one another post the match at North Sound. The incident happened when Gunathilaka was batting on a fluent 55 and defended a Pollard delivery and moved a few steps forward before sending back the non-striker Pathum Nissanka and returning to the crease himself. Pollard sprinted towards the ball but Gunathilaka’s heel pushed it away from the West Indies captain, who appealed vociferously.
Under law 37 of the game, a batsman can be given out if he “wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract” the fielding side but video replays suggested Gunathilaka did not intentionally push the ball away from Pollard. However, that was not the view of the third umpire. On-field umpire Joel Wilson referred the decision to the third umpire, who gave the red signal much to the shock of the Sri Lankan batsman.
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Tom Moody, Sri Lanka’s Director of Cricket, was extremely disappointed with the verdict. “Wilful obstruction – no way was that wilful – shocker,” tweeted the former Australia player. Former West Indies skipper Darren Sammy shared the same view, “Don’t think that was wilful at all. I wouldn’t appeal,” stated the 37-year-old.
Sri Lanka who were given a fine start by their openers who added a hundred-plus stand for the opening wicket lost their way post the Gunathilaka dismissal and were bowled out for 232. West Indies went on to win by 8 wickets with three overs to spare.
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