What the Sri Lankans could learn from Pakistanis

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: India’s one-day international against Sri Lanka, at Dambulla on Monday, in a ‘must win’ match was a well-contested one. But, at its fag end, it left a bad taste, when off spinner Suraj Randiv deliberately bowled his first no-ball of the match to prevent Virender Sehwag getting a well-deserved century.

With the scores level, Sehwag on 99 and India needing one to win, Randiv overshot the crease by more than a foot. Sehwag managed to hit the ball for a six. Unfortunately, it did not count as the no-ball’s contribution of one meant India had won the match.

Sehwag was stranded not out at 99.

It gets complicated when you hear Kumar Sangakkara, captain of Sri Lanka and King’s XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL), advising Randiv “Remember, if he scores he gets a 100!” which the stump microphone promptly picked up and recorded.

All captains take an oath of fairplay these days.

Was the captain first advising the rookie spinner to deliberately bowl a no-ball and later certifying in the press conference that Randiv did not deliberately bowl a no-ball to prevent Viru’s 100?

Now, Saurav Ganguly says the Sri Lankans did the same to him when Lasith Malinga bowled a wide to give four runs leaving Ganguly stranded at 98. It has happened to Sachin Tendulkar too in a match.

Have the Lankans made a habit of this?

Could they learn something from the Pakistanis?

Let’s go back in history. Imagine the scene when Anil Kumble needed one wicket to bag all 10 wickets in a Test innings, which had been achieved only once earlier by Jim Laker against Australia in 1955.

Kumble was bowling to arch rivals, Pakistan, at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi in 1999. The batsmen at the crease: the famous speed merchants, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Have you ever seen a fast bowler giving a wicket away to another fast bowler or a spinner to another spinner? When such is the level of competition, won’t a fleeting thought come across which will say ‘ let me play spoilsport?’

It is to the eternal credit of Wasim and Waqar to have played half a dozen overs before Wasim was out caught V.V.S. Laxman and bowled Kumble giving him 10 for 74.

I know the two were accused of ball tampering among other sins.

Yet, it is again to the credit of the 2Ws, they didn’t get run out nor get out deliberately to a bowler at the other end even if Javagal Srinath was asked to bowl outside the off stump by India’s captain Sourav Ganguly Mohammed Azharuddin.

Not many spoke of their sportsmanship when they played the game in its true spirit. How many cricketers of modern era would have done that? Especially by Asians, in letting another Asian becoming the second bowler in history to capture 10 wickets in an innings?

This is in such a contrast to what we saw Suraj Randiv doing, probably, at the instance of his captain!