Blundering umpires leave India frustrated

It could have been a canter but India were hard done by three umpiring blunders that has forced them to strive hard for a victory in the opening Test against Sri Lanka here on Friday.

After evicting the experienced Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews, who had stitched together a 87-run partnership, in quick succession to leave the hosts tottering at 95/5, the Indians were left cursing their luck when Dinesh Chandimal (twice) and Lahiri Thirimanne (once) were ruled not out incorrectly.

First Chandimal got a reprieve just moments after walking into bat from umpire Bruce Oxenford. While attempting a sweep off R Ashwin, the ball took a faint edge of the bat before ballooning off the helmet grill to Cheteshwar Pujara at leg gully. Instantly the entire Indian team went up in arms in appeal but Oxenford ruled Chandimal not out.

In the next over, Mishra was the unlucky bowler. Thirimanne, new to the crease, offered a regulation bat and pad catch to KL Rahul at silly point that triggered instant celebrations from the Indian team. However, joy turned into despair when umpire Nigel Long refused to raise his index finger.

Third umpire Ranmore Martinesz then joined the party to leave the Indians an unhappy lot. Chandimal’s cover-driven effort saw the ball ricochet off Rohit Sharma’s shoes straight back to the bowler Mishra. While TV replays showed the ball going clearly off Rohit’s shoes, Martinesz considered it to be a bump ball to rule it not out. The hat-trick of errors even saw team director Ravi Shastri flash three fingers from the dressing room, indicating his unhappiness with the umpiring.

Thanks to those three decisions, Chandimal and Thirimanne went on to make a counter-attacking 125-run stand for the sixth wicket off just 148 balls. While that association ensured India still have some work to do before they cross the line, Ajinkya Rahane felt such umpiring errors are part of the game. “Such things happen. It’s part and parcel of the game,” he said at the post match press conference.

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