Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo
India's comfortable victory over Sri Lanka has been soured by a controversy over Suraj Randiv's massive no-ball, which proved to be the winning run and left Virender Sehwag stranded on 99, though the batsman slammed it over long-off for a six. Sehwag celebrated what would have been century No. 13, only to be told later the six didn't count. After the match, he said Randiv had bowled the no-ball deliberately, and that the move "has no place in good cricket".
"Yes, it was done deliberately," Sehwag said, shedding the blase attitude with which he had reacted to the incident immediately after the match. "Because [of the size of the no-ball] ... that much from the crease. Till now in Test matches he hasn't bowled a no-ball [Randiv bowled two at the P Sara Oval], he hasn't bowled no-balls in one-day cricket, on 99 only why did he bowl a no-ball? And not a small no-ball, not a small margin, from one foot ahead."
Sehwag had blasted 29 of India's 33 runs in four overs leading up to the 34th to move to 99, and the team was five short of the target. He has reached several of his famous hundreds with sixes, including the maiden triple-century by an Indian in Tests, and there was an air of anticipation in Dambulla as Randiv started the 34th over. The first ball slipped past the batsman outside off and beat Sangakkara as well for four byes to bring the scores level. The next two deliveries were carved straight to the point fielder, before Randiv overstepped by about a foot to end the match; Sehwag's six off the no ball was futile.
"They [Sri Lanka] have done it because no team wants anybody to score hundreds against them," Sehwag said, "but they did that, they are happy and we are happy, we won the game, we got the bonus point."
When asked whether he felt Randiv had instructions from senior team members to bowl the no-ball, Sehwag said this was the second time Sri Lanka had ended a match by giving away extras to deny an Indian batsman a century. Sachin Tendulkar had finished unbeaten on 96 in a one-dayer against Sri Lanka in Cuttack last year after the match ended with Lasith Malinga bowling a wide down the leg side which went to the fine-leg boundary.
"I'm not the captain of the opposing team, so I can't say, but something must have been said by either the captain or the senior team members," Sehwag said. "It has happened before, when Sachin Tendulkar was left on 99 not out [actually 96] in Cuttack, they bowled four wides down the leg side This is not the first time Sri Lanka has done this, they may have done it with other teams but with India it is the second time."
Kumar Sangakkara denied playing any role in the incident. "I hope it was not deliberate," he said. "That's not the way I would like to play cricket. If that was intentional, and I have to find out about that, it has got no place on the field of cricket. I will also have to see if there was any talk about it on the field prior to that delivery."
Sangakkara also defended Randiv, saying the offspinner was not the sort of person to bowl a deliberate no-ball. "Knowing Suraj, he is a really nice guy. I have no doubt that it was not intentional. Maybe he was trying to bowl the doosra, and maybe get some bounce off it. But if there has been some talk about it on the field before the start of that delivery by other players, or maybe a bit of coaxing, I will have to address that very, very strongly in the dressing room."
Sehwag said he was not aware of the rule that stipulated the match was over once the no-ball was bowled, though it counts as a delivery faced. Sangakkara also appeared bemused by the rule, saying it had robbed Sehwag of a century. "I think if a batsman scores the runs, he scores the runs, whether it is a no-ball or not. I think if he scores runs off it, it should count for the batsman. The way Viru batted, he deserved to get a hundred."