A horror of an umpiring decision, and an avoidable mix up that led to a run out, pushed Pakistan into a hole on Day 3 of the first test against Sri Lanka here. At lunch, Pakistan was all out for 100, in its first innings, in reply to Sri Lanka’s 472.
Younis Khan (29), the Pakistani top scorer in this innings, began the day in a sedate manner with Mohammed Ayub (25), the 32-year-old Punjab batsman who finally got a chance at the international level thanks to Captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s suspension. For the first half hour, it appeared that the duo had it under control, despite some hostile bowling from the pacemen, and Herath’s clever variations in flight and angles.
The pair was separated by a horrible decision. Younis Khan had nicked a ball to his pads, and, the fielders around the bat plus the bowler, Rangana Herath, went up in unison. The umpire ruled him out, and Younis was seen indicating that the ball hit the bat first. The problem is that Younis has a tendency to show his bat when the ball hits the pads. That did not help his case here.
Ayub appeared to shake off the dismissal and deal with the issue on hand, in the company of wicket keeper Adnan Akmal (8). But a horrible mix up after Akmal paddle swept Herath and took off, resulted in their being separated. Two runs were certainly possible, and Akmal called for the second, and was running towards the danger end. Ayub started, and then turned back. Both batsmen ended at the same end. Akmal had to leave.
Only three Pakistan’ batsmen have managed to get into double figure scores, and it is pretty much certain that Pakistan is staring down the proverbial barrel in this test.
‘Nine bad decisions’
“So far nine decisions have been bad in just this one innings of either side,” said commentator and former Pakistani cricketer Rameez Raja. “And 5 of those decisions were when Sri Lanka was batting. Between those five decisions many partnerships happened, and put on 230 runs,” he added. Basically, Sri Lanka benefitted, while Pakistan lost out.
Rameez clarified that the umpires should not be blamed. It was about Asian conditions. These conditions required Asian umpires, who would be able to differentiate how the ball would travel when a spinner bowled, just as local umpires in, say, Australia, would be better at judging the bounce on a track.
Given the fact that umpires were under such pressure from the International Cricket Council, it is fairly certain that they would no longer be beholden to the home boards. The panel is decided by the ICC, and hence, no umpire would want to be seen as giving a bad decision. Hence, ICC needs to do a fundamental rethink on the manner in which it allocates umpires for matches, particularly tests.
Sri Lanka (1st innings): 472
Pakistan (1st innings): M.Hafeez lbw Randiv 20, T.Umar lbw Kulasekara 9, A.Ali c P.Jayawardene b Kulasekara 0, Y.Khan lbw Herath 29, S.Ajmal c Paranavitana b Randiv 0, A.Shafiq c P.Jayawardene b Herath 0, M.Ayub lbw Herath 25, A.Akmal (run out) 9, A.Rehman lbw Randiv 1, U.Gul c P.Jayawardene b Randiv 2, J.Khan (not out) 2. Extras (lb 2 w 1) 3. Total (all out in 54.3 overs) 100.
Fall of Wickets: 1-17, 2-17, 3-43, 4-43, 5-44, 6-65, 7-88, 8-94, 9-98.
Sri Lanka Bowling: Kulasekara 13-7-27-2, Pradeep 9-2-28-0, Herath 21-6-30-3, Mathews 2-2-0-0, Randiv 9.3-1-13-4