In a gripping encounter between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the second Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Sri Lankan pacer Asitha Fernando faced reprimand from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his exuberant and ‘inappropriate’ celebration after dismissing Saud Shakeel. Despite Asitha Fernando’s impressive three-wicket haul, Pakistan’s commanding 397-run lead at the end of Day 3 has put them in a dominant position to win the match.
On the third day of the Test, Pakistan displayed exceptional batting prowess, with opener Abdullah Shafique shining brightly with a maiden double century in Test cricket. Saud Shakeel’s fifty in seven consecutive Test matches further bolstered Pakistan’s already formidable lead.
Rain played spoilsport on Day 2, with only 10 overs of play possible. However, Pakistan continued to assert their dominance, courtesy of their remarkable performance on Day 3. Sri Lankan spinner Prabath Jayasuriya and pacer Asitha Fernando managed to claim a couple of wickets for their team.
The incident that led to the ICC’s intervention occurred when Asitha Fernando was successful in dismissing Saud Shakeel, who was given out on an lbw decision. Overwhelmed by the crucial wicket, Fernando’s celebration took a contentious turn. He approached Shakeel and displayed his emotions in a manner that was deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the match officials.
As a consequence of his actions, the ICC found Asitha Fernando guilty of breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct. The incident marked the first Level 1 breach by the Sri Lankan pacer in the last two years. As a result, he received one demerit point, adding to his disciplinary record. Notably, there was no formal hearing as Fernando readily accepted the sanctions proposed by David Boon of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees after the conclusion of Day 3’s play.
Asitha Fernando‘s career statistics reveal him as a talented bowler, having played 12 Test matches, where he has taken 35 wickets with a best of 6/51. In ODIs, he has played five matches, picking up one wicket at an economy rate of 1/64.
In the context of the match, Pakistan’s first innings total of 563/5, built on Agha Salman’s splendid unbeaten knock of 128* off 132 and Mohammad Rizwan’s 37* off 61, has put them in a commanding position. With a 397-run lead, it is expected that Pakistan, led by Babar Azam, will declare their innings early on Day 4 to mount a challenging target for Sri Lanka and aim for a clean sweep in the red-ball series.
The incident involving Asitha Fernando serves as a reminder for players to display professionalism and sportsmanship, even in the heat of competition. The ICC’s commitment to maintaining the integrity and spirit of the game remains unwavering, as it continues to uphold the highest standards of conduct in international cricket.