A late strike by speedster Shannon Gabriel gave West Indies control of the second Test against Sri Lanka, but a ball-change controversy marred proceedings, headlining the third day and threatening to disrupt the series here yesterday.
Match officials changed the ball and awarded West Indies five penalty runs over their concern about the suspected altered condition of the ball, prompting the visitors' refusal to take the field at the start of play at the Daren Sammy Stadium.
Sri Lanka Cricket advised the team to play "under protest" and that team management said no players "engaged in any wrongdoing" - while it would take all steps to defend any player charged with "any unwarranted allegation". The clause relates to altering the condition of the match ball.
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Animated discussions ensued involving match referee Javagal Srinath and the Sri Lankan pair of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and team manager Asanka Gurusinha.
"The team on the third day of the match protested a decision taken by the umpires citing "changing the condition of the ball", the statement added.
SLC confirmed support of their players in a subsequent release - saying their team was continuing the Test "under protest" - while Chandimal has formally denied the charge as laid by the umpires.
It is understood that the Sri Lankans were angered by the umpires, Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, only informing them of the charge and applying a five-run penalty just ten minutes before the scheduled start of play on Saturday.
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Sri Lanka on Saturday night said that it will defend the National cricket team over ball tampering allegations which surfaced in the West Indies.
The umpires suspected that the visitors' skipper Dinesh Chandimal changed the condition of the ball and made a decision to change it which didn't go down well with the team.
The Pakistanis did not return to the field after tea on the fourth day and the umpires deemed this to mean they had forfeited the match, even though Pakistan later said they were willing to play.
Mendis touched a leg-side delivery from Jason Holder through to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich when on 14 but was reprieved as the West Indies captain had overstepped the front crease.
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Sri Lanka were 34/1 at stumps in their second innings, trailing by 13. But fast bowler Lahiru Kumara took the most wickets, four.
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