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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Antigua: Sri Lanka batsman Danushka Gunathilaka was given out  in the most unusual fashion for 'obstructing the field' during the first ODI against the West Indies in Antigua on Wednesday.

The third umpire gave him out in a way that is being considered controversial after Kieron Pollard appealed for his wicket when his foot seemingly unintentionally pushed the ball away from the bowler.

During the 22nd over of the visitors innings, Gunathilaka, who had just reached his half-century, took a couple of steps out to take a single but then decided against it. When he moved to get back to his crease, he deflected the ball away from Pollard’s reach with his foot.

Pollard was seemingly dismayed at Gunathilaka's actions and  immediately appealed. On-field umpire Joe Wilson referred the call to the third umpire while giving a soft signal of out. The third umpire was convinced that Gunathilaka's actions amounted to wilful obstruction in the field and the decision was upheld.

As the batsman walked back with a look of disbelief on his face, Sri Lanka coach Micky Arthur was seen furiously walking out of the dressing room and going towards the match referee’s room.

The decision courted controversy as former West Indies cricketer Ian Bishop called the decision 'unfortunate' and 'harsh'. Even former skipper Darren Sammy said he would not have appealed for the wicket. Former Australia cricketer Tom Moody didn't agree that it was wilful obstruction.

Clause 37.1.1 of ICC Playing Conditions states that a batsman can be given out obstructing the field he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action.

Gunathilaka had scored a fluent half century (55 from 61 balls) with seven glorious boundaries during his stay at the crease. He also shared a 105-run opening stand with skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. Gunathilaka happens to be the first Sri Lankan player to be dismissed obstructing the field.

(Video Credit: Cricket on BT Sport)

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