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WI vs SL: Danushka Gunathilaka’s ‘Obstructing The Field’ Dismissal Sparks Controversy

Cricket experts and fans reacted to the dismissal and passed their own set of judgments.

WI vs SL: Danushka Gunathilaka’s ‘Obstructing The Field’ Dismissal Sparks Controversy

West Indies and Sri Lanka faced each other in the 1st ODI in Antigua, which the hosts won by eight wickets. However, that’s not the major talking point after the match, as a controversy erupted between Sri Lanka opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka, West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard and on-field umpire Joe Wilson, which became the talk of the town.

It all happened at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, with Sri Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Gunathilaka provided a good start in the first innings and the visitors looked to set a challenging total batting first. However, Sri Lanka captain Karunaratne fell after his fifty and Gunathilaka soon followed, scoring 55, which halted their momentum.

In between the 21st over, the match took an ill-tempered turn when Gunathilaka was judged to have ‘obstructed the field’. Gunathilaka playing a ball from Pollard,set off for a run before changing his mind, fending away his batting partner Pathum Nissanka and stepped back into his own crease. Meanwhile, the ball had died down very close to Gunathilaka’s feet.

Pollard immediately appealed and on-field umpire Joe Wilsonreferred it upstairs. Third umpire Nigel Guguid ruled that the Sri Lankan opener had deliberately attempted to foil the run out and declared him out.

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Guguid’s decision courted some controversy as there seemed to be little evidence that the batsman had acted deliberately. Cricket experts and fans reacted to the dismissal and passed their own set of judgments.

Former Australia spinner Brad Hogg supported the umpire’s call and said Gunathilaka ‘showed no urgency getting back to his crease’ during the whole sequence.

However, several from the cricket fraternity thought otherwise. Former cricketers Michael Vaughan, Tom Moody and Daren Sammy have questioned the third-umpire’s decision.

Post his dismissal, Gunathilaka became the eighth player in more than a half a century of ODI cricket to be given out for obstructing the field.

Later in the match, the visitors lost their way and were bundled out 232 in 49 overs. The hosts chased the modest total with Evin Lewis’ opening 65, Shai Hope’s 110 and later, unbeaten 37 and 13 from Darren Bravo and Jason Mohammed helped them secure a eight wicket win in 47 overs.

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