Sri Lanka 'chickened out', says DDCA vice-president
The Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) vice-president and former India Test player Chetan Chauhan has said Sri Lanka "chickened out" out of the final ODI against India after finding themselves in trouble at 83 for 5 in the 24th over. He also questioned the officials' decision to call off the game and said the pitch was neither unplayable or dangerous.
Chauhan's comments, to the Indian news channel Times Now, are likely to add to the controversy surrounding the match, and appear ill-timed given that the matter is currently with the ICC - which could, as punishment, keep the Kotla ground out of the 2011 World Cup.
He claimed while the match at the Feroz Shah Kotla was held up, with the officials pondering whether it would be wise to carry on, the ICC match referee Alan Hurst told him that the visitors were reluctant to carry on.
"The match referee told me unofficially that one side did not want to carry on and he could not force them," Chauhan said. "It could not be India since [MS] Dhoni was willing to continue. Sri Lanka were at 83 for 5 and that's why they backed out... it was the Sri Lankans who chickened out."
Play was called off after 23.3 overs after the match officials decided the pitch was of "extremely variable bounce and too dangerous for further play". Chauhan though, questioned why the match continued till the 24th over and wasn't called off much earlier. "Everybody involved with the game is to be blamed for the fiasco, including the match referee," he said. "I don't think the match would have been called off had it been in Australia or South Africa. Had the pitch been dangerous for play, the match would have been called off inside five overs and it could not have gone on to the 24th.
"I agree this was not ideal for international matches but this was neither unplayable or dangerous. I've played on similar tracks, even on worse. I never realised a match could be called off so easily."
Hurst, in his statement on Sunday, said the decision to abandon the match had been taken in consultation with both captains and the on-field umpires Marais Erasmus and Shavir Tarapore, after they had given it enough time to see if the pitch would settle down. "It was clear that the pitch had extremely variable bounce and was too dangerous for further play," he said. "I'd like to commend the on-field umpires and captains for continuing as long as they did in the hope that the pitch may settle down. Unfortunately, this did not happen."
Chauhan also contended that the adjacent strip had been offered to ensure a new match. "We offered another wicket and said 'give us one hour and you would have it ready'," he said. "But he [Hurst] decided to call it off.
"The match should have continued because some 45,000 people were in the ground and another 2-3 crore were glued to the television. An honest effort should have been made to save the match."
But Hurst said, "Before abandoning the match, consideration was given to shifting the match to a secondary pitch. However, it was deemed impractical as the secondary pitch was not adequately prepared."