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Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal has been reprimanded by the ICC (one Test ban) for ball-tampering after the found guilty of changing the conditions  (applying artificial substance) of the bowl during the second Test.

Controversy erupted in St Lucia when the ICC match officials informed the Sri Lankan team management that the condition of the ball had been changed using an artificial substance at the end of the second day. A bemused Sri Lankan team objected to ICC’s initial charge and refused to take the field at the start of the third day, holding up a play for nearly two hours.

While five runs were added as a penalty to Windies total, Skipper Chandimal was charged by the ICC for the ball tampering for breaching Level 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct. Chandimal had been accused of applying an artificial substance on the ball, after placing sweets in his mouth.

Chandimal pleaded not guilty and attended a hearing with the ICC referee Javagal Srinath with his team management and SLC officials at the end of the Test match. The video evidence came up in the hearing and while the Lankan skipper admitted putting something in his mouth, he wasn’t able to recall what it was, as per the ICC release. Consequently, Srinath handed out a one-match ban and two demerit points along with 100% suspension of his match fee.

ICC Press release

Srinath stated, “The footage shows that upon receiving the ball, Dinesh took something from his pocket and put it into his mouth. After sucking or chewing whatever he put in his mouth for a few seconds, Dinesh then proceeded to spit on his finger and polish the ball with his saliva which would have contained the residue of the artificial substance that he had in his mouth, on two separate occasions.

“During the hearing, Dinesh admitted to putting something in his mouth but couldn’t remember what it was, which I found unconvincing as a defence and the fact remains it was an artificial substance.

“In the pre-series briefing held on the back of the ICC Cricket Committee recommendations, both the sides were explicitly told that the match officials would be extra vigilant towards all aspects of fair play, including changing the condition of the ball and as such it is disappointing that this has happened.”

It is understood that Sri Lanka had objected to the match officials’ initial charge partly on technical grounds, and this was the reason they stayed off the field for two hours. Although the tampering had occurred in the third session of the second day, the umpires had only viewed the corresponding footage before play on the third morning, and only after viewing the footage did they impose five penalty runs, and change the ball.

Part of what Sri Lanka’s team management had objected to was the timing of the match officials’ charge. They were only told roughly ten minutes before the scheduled start on day three that a player stood accused of ball-tampering. They made the case that the issue should have been dealt with on the previous day itself. Both Sri Lanka’s team management and the board in Colombo have since been tight-lipped on what their other objections could possibly have been. Long before the hearing had taken place, the board had issued a release stating that it would “take all necessary steps to defend any player, in the event any unwarranted allegation is brought against a member of the team”.

With the ICC rules becoming more stringent in the aftermath of the Cape Town ball-tampering row, Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and manager Asana Gurusinha, could miss out on anything between two to four Tests, after being charged with “conduct contrary to the spirit of the game”.

With the Windies hanging onto a draw in the second fixture, and the third Test at Barbados set to be Sri Lanka’s first ever game at the iconic venue, Chandimal’s (hundred in the second Test) absence will be chastening for Sri Lanka, who will look to draw level the series in the historic Day-Night fixture.