LNP – Danushka Gunathilaka run out – a bone of contention

Run outs over the years have played their part to decorate our beautiful game. There have been some famous ones; Allan Donald being run out in Birmingham to deny South Africa a place in the 1999 World Cup final and Sir Don Bradman being left stranded on 299 after his batting partner – Australia’s last man “Pud” Thurlow was run out in a Test match against South Africa in Adelaide in 1932 are just a few. The Lanka Premier League saw some high profile run outs as well.

Dambulla Viikings were knocked out in the semis by eventual champions Jaffna Stallions after their skipper Dasun Shanka attempted a cheeky single to short third man. Then in the final, the tournament’s highest run getter Danushka Gunathilaka was run out making several people to question the mode of his dismissal and whether the umpires could have done anything more to reinstate the batsman.

It has been a debate that has been widely discussed in cricket circles mainly because Galle Gladiators run chase was derailed soon after Gunathilaka’s departure and eventually it was an easy win for Jaffna Stallions.

The incident happened in the second over of the innings. Suranga Lakmal was bowling round the wicket to the left-handed batsman and he appealed for leg before wicket after Gunathilaka missed a flick shot to a full delivery. Lakmal had his back turned to the batsman as he was appealing and  he had crossed onto the other side of the pitch – the lane in which Gunathilaka was running. The batsman was running blind as well looking at the ball and the two collided.

Jaffna Stallions skipper Thisara Perera was cool as a cucumber.  He  collected the ball, sprinted to the non-striker’s end and threw the stumps down before Gunathilaka made it.

What happened was an unfortunate incident and there is no law in cricket  where a batsman could be reinstated after such an incident – it’s a funny game they say.

It certainly was no obstruction. Lakmal simply didn’t see Gunathilaka and vice-versa.

However, had Gunathilaka stood his ground after he collided with Lakmal and still if Perera had taken the bails off and appealed, then the umpires could have asked the question from the fielding side’s captain if he wanted  to go ahead with the appeal. In most cases, captains withdraw their appeals. Thisara Perera would have probably done the same.

But the problem was Gunathilaka attempted to complete the run and therefore the umpires had Hobson’s  Choice. Both on-field umpires – Ruchira Palliyaguru and Kumar Dharmasena are International Cricket Council umpires and they are well equipped to deal with situations like these.

It was a shame that Gunathilaka had to go that way.  Boy, what a tournament he had. His 476 runs came at an average  of 60 and Strike Rate of 145. No other batsman even managed to reach the 300 run mark in the competition. He is certainly going to have a massive impact  not just in T-20 cricket but ODIs as well in time to come. If only he can stay out of trouble, we are going to hear a lot more of Gunathilaka’s exploits soon.

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