Following concerns raised by umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould about the condition of the ball nearing the end of the second day, the Sri Lankans were advised before the start of Saturday's play that they could not continue with the existing ball.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) tweeted: "The ICC can confirm the match officials in the second Test between West Indies and Sri Lanka changed the ball and awarded 5 penalty runs to West Indies. If there are any, Code of Conduct charges will follow as per usual at close of play".
The ICC can confirm the match officials in the second Test between West Indies and Sri Lanka changed the ball and awarded 5 penalty runs to West Indies. If there are any, Code of Conduct charges will follow as per usual at close of play.#WIvSL pic.twitter.com/xeiaAKQ9DU— ICC (@ICC) June 16, 2018
This resulted in Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal refusing to lead his team onto the field with the West Indies set to continue their innings at 118 for two in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 253.
Animated discussions then ensued involving match referee Javagal Srinath and the Sri Lankan pair of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and team manager Asanka Gurusinha and it appeared for some time that the day's play at least and possibly the rest of the match might be in doubt.
However it was after these deliberations that the Sri Lankans agreed to the change of ball and to continue playing although it is understood that they will be contesting any charge of tampering with the ball.
Five penalty runs have been added to the West Indies total.
However, in another twist and after initially appearing to be prepared to resume the match, the Sri Lankans hesitated even as they were making their way out to the middle.
Further discussions then ensued which brought Srinath onto the field while the West Indies contingent, headed by team manager Rawl Lewis, coach Stuart Law and captain Jason Holder, appeared bemused by the entire situation and sought clarification from the match referee.
Unconfirmed reports coming out from these deliberations suggest that the Sri Lankans were reluctant to continue the match under the cloud of suspicion of ball-tampering.
The Cricinfo web site reported that near the end of play on Friday the umpires checked on the ball and Gould could be seen asking to see Dhananjaya de Silva's hands. He was the player shining the ball and he had bandages on, although that is not uncommon in modern cricket.
What a surprised start to day 3 @OfficialSLC obviously unhappy over the development re the ball change not taking the field. I am only speculating about it.— Roshan Abeysinghe (@RoshanCricket) June 16, 2018
What a shame !!! Bright sunshine here in St. Lucia but no cricket !! #WIvSL Controversy over the ball. Play should have started 30min ago— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) June 16, 2018
Controversy in Saint Lucia. Sri Lanka is refusing to take field after umpires changed the ball (presumably because of ball-tampering but without 5-run penalty).— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 16, 2018
It has already been a 47 minutes delay. Are we heading towards second forfeited match in Test history? #WIvSL
Interestingly the ball wasn’t even changed in the #sandpapergate and we know what followed. Sri Lankan players aren’t taking the field vs WI following the umpires’ decision to change the ball... #BallTampering #TestCricket #WIvSL— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) June 16, 2018
UPDATE: Apparently the umpires found Chandimal applying saliva on the ball yesterday that they thought was against the laws....Sri Lankan players are not ready to budge. Umpires & match referee are in discussion with Sri Lankans.— Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) June 16, 2018
Start delayed by 13 minutes.#WIvSL #SLvWI https://t.co/wPkCD9bFgd
There is a precedent for a team refusing to take the field after a brush with the umpires.
The first and only time a match has been forfeited in the history of Test cricket was in 2006, after Pakistan were penalised five runs for ball tampering by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove in the fourth Test against England at The Oval.
The Pakistanis did not return to the field after tea on the fourth day and the umpires deemed this to mean they had forfeited the match, even though Pakistan later said they were willing to play.