Whatmore upset by DRS absence
At the end of the third day of the Galle Test, the mounting umpiring errors, several of which hurt Pakistan, prompted their coach Dav Whatmore to question why the Decision Review System (DRS) was not in place for this series, when it had been for Sri Lanka's home Tests against England earlier this year. Whatmore added his voice to the growing chorus that DRS should be uniformly implemented across all series.
To examine the inconsistent implementation of technology, you only need to go back to March and April, when England toured Sri Lanka. The two Tests had the DRS without Hot Spot, but Snickometer was available to help detect an edge. The cost of Hot Spot cameras was beyond the cash-strapped Sri Lankan board. Pakistan's ongoing tour, however, is without DRS in any form.
"I think the home board [Sri Lanka Cricket] had it against England? Why aren't we having it here?" Whatmore asked. "It doesn't seem right to me where you have it for one series and not for the other. It's difficult to understand.
"What is more important is that the DRS should be made mandatory for every series. That will go a long way into fixing a lot of things."
Pakistan's struggle in Galle - they are 474 away from victory with seven wickets left - is a story of many layers. Their collapse for 100 in the first innings was because of a combination of poor application from the batsmen and equally poor decision-making by the umpires, Ian Gould and Steve Davis. The contentious issues involved several undetected inside edges.
Whatmore chose not to comment on the quality of umpiring but said his complaints would be made through official channels. "There will be a bit to say, but I cannot make a public comment. We have ways of communicating with those who matter."
There were several examples to illustrate his point. Saeed Ajmal cut a forlorn figure when Tillakaratne Dilshan steered him to the third-man boundary in Sri Lanka's second innings, their lead swelling past 400. Ajmal's expressions, in joy and sorrow, are as natural as they come. On this occasion, he kicked the ground in frustration and had to be comforted by his captain Mohammad Hafeez. The issue was not the boundary, but the wicket he was denied the previous ball. Dilshan had attempted to sweep, and the ball had brushed the glove before settling in the wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal's gloves. The umpire failed to spot the edge, though, and not for the first time in the match.
It had begun when Umar Gul's appeal for a catch behind was turned down on the first morning. Tharanga Paranavitana had inside edged the ball on to his pads, after which it lobbed to Akmal. Gul was denied again later on, this time against Mahela Jayawardene. Batting on 21, Jayawardene was hit below the knee roll by a sharp incoming delivery adjacent to leg stump, but was given the benefit of the doubt perhaps on the presumption there was an inside edge. He scored 62.
When Pakistan came out to bat late on the second day, the opener Taufeeq Umar got a questionable lbw decision against Nuwan Kulasekara. He had asked for trouble by not offering a shot, but the ball hit him above the knee roll and was climbing. Ajmal, the night-watchman, played forward to a delivery from Suraj Randiv that climbed, but there was no evidence of it hitting bat before lobbing to short leg.
This morning, another rough decision claimed Pakistan's most senior batsman, Younis Khan, who was desperate to regain his form and confidence, especially in Misbah-ul-Haq's absence. Younis lunged forward against Rangana Herath and played for turn, but the ball straightened and hit the pad in line with the stumps. However, the umpire failed to notice an inside edge and gave him lbw. Pakistan had already been reeling at 48 for 5 overnight and Younis' dismissal ended any ambition of achieving a substantial score.
In Sri Lanka's second innings, Dilshan's reprieve against Ajmal deepened Pakistan's wounds but the batsman was later adjudged lbw to a ball that struck him too high. But when Prasanna Jayawardene also gloved a ball from Ajmal on to his pads and was caught behind, but the umpire was unmoved. Sri Lanka had another bad decision going their way, when Kulasekara batted, but it didn't matter.
The odd howler is pardonable, but when there are so many errors in three days it is cause for concern. And while it isn't fair to blame the umpiring alone for Pakistan's struggle - they failed to read Kulasekara's movement and Herath's spin - it's possible that the rough decisions affected their morale.
The ICC, during its annual conference in Kuala Lumpur this week, will decide on their cricket committee's recommendation that the DRS be universally applied. This series is timely evidence.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo