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Controversial umpire call leaves Sri Lanka dressing room in disbelief during Afghanistan game in 2022 Asia Cup

The on-field and third umpire made a couple of baffling decisions during the early part of the Sri Lankan innings during their Asia Cup opening match against Afghanistan on Saturday.

New Delhi (31/08 – 35.29) Afghanistan made a dream start to the Asia Cup with an eight-wicket win over struggling five-time champions Sri Lanka. Afghanistan were on top from the beginning, taking three wickets in the first three overs of the match. It was a forgettable period for the Sri Lankans and, probably the officials, with a couple of baffling calls that they made taking the spotlight as well.

The first instance was the major one which Sri Lanka left head coach Chris Silverwood and a number of the players in the dressing room with their hands in the air in disbelief. Opener Pathum Nissanka was adjudged caught-behind by umpire Anil Chaudhary off pacer Naveen-ul-Haq. Nissanka went for the DRS check seconds before the clock timed out after a lengthy deliberation with non-striker Danushka Gunathilaka.

Third umpire Jayaraman Madangopal observed the footage and there were nothing more than negligible tremors on the chart, the kind that normally leads to the batter being declared not out. However, the third umpire chose to uphold Chaudhary’s decision and Nissanka remained out. The Sri Lanka camp could not believe it and Nissanka himself looked stunned, eventually dragging himself off the field.

Later, the umpire called a wide for the last delivery of the seventh over from Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi. The signal was made while Afghanistan were quite confidently for a caught behind down the leg side. Nabi went for a review straightaway and it was the umpire’s decision that was upheld. However, it seemed that somehow the wide delivery call was revoked and Sri Lanka’s score, which had reached 50 with that extra, went back to 49.

There was no explanation for and the commentators were left a little confused by the second incident. However, they had a much longer discussion on what happened with the Nissanka dismissal.

“That’s very interesting what we’ve just seen,” said on-air commentator Sanjay Manjrekar. “I have never seen a batsman given out for a slight murmur on the UltraEdge. Normally you look for the huge spike. Just the way the dialogue was going on with the third umpire, he looked at a very still line, and then he saw a little tremor. And it’s a little unfair on the batter.”

“But the flicker was right through, wasn’t it?” said co-commentator Russel Arnold, suggesting that the slight flicker had continued from before the ball had passed the bat. “Yeah, I have never seen something like this happen,” Manjrekar said. “Umpires generally wait for a spike to appear. There was no spike at all, if at all there was a little bit of a tremor right through that UltraEdge, which is a brilliant technology, hence everyone’s shocked.”

Manjrekar and Arnold both noted that the batter did take a long time to go for the review, whereas the norm is that batters tend to review immediately in case of caught behind dismissals off edges as they would know if they had actually nicked it or not. Pakistan fast bowling great Wasim Akram said that a little tremor was bound to come in the ultra-edge which might explain why the wicketkeeper was so confident of the dismissal.

“Let me throw in another thought,” Manjrekar continued. “You guys heard a click through the stump microphone. The umpire would have heard it as well. Whether that would have influenced the decision at the end…”

“We would have heard it on the conversation, wouldn’t we?” Arnold replied. “We hear the umpires speak. It was about the tremor. Nothing else.”