Dambulla: Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara in a press conference on Wednesday downplayed the recent no-ball controversy as “unfortunate” and also blamed Indian opener Virender Sehwag for blowing the controversy out of proportion.
Sangakkara was not happy with Sehwag speaking in two voices on the controversy and “sensationalising” the issue.
“We can’t expect just one side to keep making advances and holding out the hand while it has been sensationalised by other players. I think everyone has got the responsibility to move on from this incident,” he said when asked if Sri Lankan team has anything to say to Sehwag.
“He said one thing at match presentation and there was a mark contrast in the press conference with regard to that no ball. I have spoken to Mahi (M S Dhoni) and Gary Kirsten. Sehwag has tweeted that there have been other approaches made to him. I think if you all talk of the spirit of the game, once you set right things in motion, it’s the responsibility of all players, to be within that spirit,” he added.
He also seemed to suggest that there was no deliberate act by any of Sri Lankan players in denying a century to Sachin Tendulkar in Cuttack as has been said by Sehwag.
“There’s been this incident in Cuttack been brought up. I have seen the replay of it and that was actually a leg-bye. The umpire signalled a bye and the batsman implied that he might have even hit it.
“So there are various incidents that happen along the way, our job is to rise above that whether it’s been incidents in Pakistan, political interference, racism. The incident like this will happen, but we need to make sure to minimise it or eradicate it and to make sure to play with the spirit of the game and continue the relationships we have.
“There have been abuses of players and there have been incidents in the recent past. India-Australia has been acrimonious, all of those things have been left on the field and the players have got on with the game,” he said.
Asked about local media reports that Tillakaratne Dilshan had suggested Randiv to bowl the no-ball, Sangakkara said, “The Board will inquire into the matter, taking into account all the statements made by the players, the views I have communicated to them, the views of manager. It doesn’t matter; one person or five persons did it.
End of the day, the team, has to face the consequences.”
He said he at first thought Sehwag would get his century after the Randiv no-ball was hit for a six only to realise later that it was not so under MCC Laws of Cricket.
“We were under impression that in normal situations of the game even in a no ball, you get the runs. I was under the impression that Sehwag was on 105. There was no instance we thought he was denied a 100. Tony Greig asked me at the post-match presentation, Sehwag was denied a hundred. That was a surprise to me, I don’t think anyone understood intricacies of the law in first place,” he said.
“We had no inclination to deny Sehwag a hundred. If you need three runs to win and four runs to get a hundred, if you score a boundary, you do get a hundred. I would have thought that if he was stumped off a wide, we would have denied him. Maybe it’s something to remember that if someone balls a wide with one run to win you can charge down the wicket and miss it if it is wide,” said Sangakkara.
Sangakkara conceded that the no-ball controversy has damaged the reputation of Sri Lanka who won ICC Spirit of the Game Award twice in the past.
“There’s been some damage done to the reputation. But, that reputation can’t be taken away from us completely, because over the years we have done well. It’s not the first time an incident like this has happened in the world, there have been incidents similar to this.
“In my 10 years, I have been through that run out in New Zealand, ball changing incident in 2006, which affected our team. We made those things known, and in retrospect, when we do things over again, the responsibility is on us to make sure that we play cricket in the right spirit. If there’s anything that we do, if it’s against it, it disappoints us,” he said.
“It will not affect the relationships at all,” he added when asked if the controversy could impact on India-Sri Lanka relationship.
Sangakkara said his side will have to forget the no-ball incident and focus on the game ahead tomorrow.
“As professionals, whatever happens before games or after games, it’s immaterial when we go onto the field. There the focus is to win the game and try things out. Our job is to make sure even if there’s no consistency, we fight it out.
“If conditions are not suitable, we need to try and make use of whatever the advantages to get out a win, that could be batting for much longer, maybe fighting out defendable totals. If we are chasing, do things in a bit of different ways. All those factors need to be taken into account. Our job is to try and win conditions and the game,” Sangakkara said.
He indicated there could be some changes from the playing XI that lost to India in their last match on Monday.
“We choose the team according to the track and the opposition. There will be some changes with the spin department, on batting as well, we have a few things to think. We will decide later,” he said.
He also said that winning the toss was advantage at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.
“Toss has some advantage in Dambulla, but you gain that advantage only by the way you play the game. Simply because you win the toss, you don’t win a game. We need to get away from that mentality. A good team is one that does well despite being facing tough situations. With the media scrutiny on the no ball, you have an important game ahead (against New Zealand),” said Sangakkara.