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Was Danushka Gunathilaka out: Sri Lankan opener’s obstructing the field dismissal vs West Indies sparks controversy

Dixit Bhargav
|Thu Mar 11 2021

Was Danushka Gunathilaka out: The Sri Lankan opening batsman was ruled out obstructing the field in the first ODI vs West Indies.

During the first ODI of the ongoing Sri Lanka’s tour of West Indies in North Sound, Sri Lanka opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka’s dismissal became a point of discussion among the cricketing fraternity.

Having scored his ninth ODI half-century, Gunathilaka was part of a 105-run opening partnership alongside captain Dimuth Karunaratne. It was only an over after Karunaratne’s dismissal that Gunathilaka also had to walk back to the pavilion.

Gunathilaka, who dabbed a Kieron Pollard delivery near his toes, was initially interested in sneaking a single. Despite instant affirmative response from his non-striker in Pathum Nissanka, Gunathilaka decided against the single as he sent Nissanka back.

With West Indies captain Pollard running towards Gunathilaka for a possible run-out, the batsman backtracked to reach the crease at the batting end. In the process, he kicked the ball twice which prevented Pollard from picking the ball and affecting a run-out.

Pollard, who wasn’t pleased with Gunathilaka’s actions, immediately appealed for obstructing the field as third umpire Nigel Duguid was brought into contention.

Was Danushka Gunathilaka out?

According to MCC’s Law 37.1.1, “Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if, except in the circumstances of 37.2, and while the ball is in play, he/she wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action.”

In Gunathilaka’s case, he surely obstructed the fielding side by his action but whether he did it “wilfully” remains the question. For anyone back-pedaling like Gunathilaka did, there are high chances of him losing sight of the ball because of his back facing it.

Because human emotions like “will” and “intention” can’t be measured and are intangible, such decisions will always remain subjective and spark debates like it did at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium last night. In what was a case subjective to one’s interpretation and perspective, fans must accept the decision made by the third umpire.

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