Wanindu Hasaranga suggests ‘another job’ for Sri Lankan umpire Lyndon Hannibal following no ball controversy

Sri Lanka’s skipper Wanindu Hasaranga, irate over an umpiring decision that arguably cost his team a series sweep, has unleashed scathing remarks on the official in question, suggesting that he pursues a different line of work. The fiasco occurred during the nail-biting climax of the third T20I match at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, where amid high tensions and towering stakes, a single decision swayed the game’s outcome.

In a series etched with competitive zeal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan were neck and neck in their T20I face-off. The final match had everyone on the edge of their seats, with Sri Lanka inching close to a dramatic chase of 210. It was the finer nuances of the game, particularly the revised ICC playing conditions that have come under the microscope.

At the heart of the controversy was Umpire Lyndon Hannibal’s judgment during the decisive last over of the match. Kamindu Mendis, in fine touch, had just struck two fours and seemed poised to guide Sri Lanka to victory. However, the fourth ball, a contentious high full toss by Afghanistan’s Wafadar Momand, sailed over Mendis’ waist while he was crouched outside his crease. Hannibal, positioned at square leg, did not signal a no-ball.

Mendis promptly signaled for a review, only to be reminded of the recent tweaks in the playing rules that confine reviews exclusively to dismissal scenarios, not boundary calls. This regulatory shift was brutally felt by the hosts as the delivery was not referred to the third umpire, who could have otherwise ruled on a possible no-ball for height.

As the players and spectators looked on in disbelief, the subsequent delivery was a short-pitched ball called wide by the umpire, further fueling the dramatic tension of the last over. With a steep 10 runs required off the remaining two balls, the pressure bore down on the Sri Lankan batsmen. The penultimate ball did not yield a run, effectively handing Afghanistan a nerve-wracking victory and depriving Sri Lanka of a clean series sweep.

Speaking after the match, an aggravatingly vexed Hasaranga made no bones about his displeasure, arguing crucial no-ball calls such as these warranted similar review processes as front-foot no-ball checks. He criticized the on-field umpire’s oversight as unacceptable in the international arena, particularly given the clear discrepancy in height — suggesting a clear and dangerous no-ball.

“That kind of thing shouldn’t happen in an international match. If it had been close (to waist height), that’s not a problem. But a ball that’s going so high… it would have hit the batsman’s head if it had gone a little higher,” Hasaranga vented his frustration in a statement to ESPNcricinfo.

“If you can’t see that, that umpire isn’t suited to international cricket. It would be much better if he did another job,” he added pointedly, channeling the anger and disbelief of a nation.

Hasaranga abstained from directly mentioning Hannibal in his outcry but made clear his stance that the quality of umpiring should merit the level of play, and that in such blatant instances, action from the ICC should be forthcoming to amend playing conditions.

“There was a situation where you could review those calls before, but the ICC has got rid of that. Our batsmen tried to review that. If the third umpire is able to check the front-foot no-ball, he should check this kind of no-ball as well. There’s no reason why they can’t. They didn’t do even that, so I’m not sure what was going on in his (the square-leg umpire’s) mind at the time,” Hasaranga concluded.

Such decisive episodes cast long shadows on the game’s spirit, with calls growing louder for more technologically inclusive and consistent umpiring review systems. The game’s purists and stalwarts alike ponder, how many more contentious decisions would it take for the ICC to revisit the no-ball review mechanism? For Sri Lanka, however, the damage in this particular series was already done, leaving fans and players alike to rue what could have been a momentous victory, thwarted not by the opponents but by the game’s own regulations.

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