Sri Lanka hit with five penalty runs after one-short incident

Roshen Silva puts in a dive
Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Pallekele November 15, 2018

Sri Lanka were docked five penalty runs in the third session of the second day at Pallekele, following a strange interpretation of the law governing deliberate short runs by the umpires.

Here's what happened:

  • Roshen Silva was batting alongside Akila Dananjaya, when Roshen cut Jack Leach fine of Moeen Ali at short third man.

  • Although there was an easy two for the taking, both batsmen assumed that the ball would reach the boundary, and ambled to the other end, while they watched Moeen chase the ball down.

  • Moeen caught up with the slowing ball, however, and reeled it in centimetres short of the boundary, sliding along the ground and scooping the ball back into play.

  • Upon realising that a four had been prevented, the batsmen - who had crossed and were now at opposite ends of the pitch - decided to cross back, only sauntering as they did, because Moeen's momentum had taken him over the boundary line, and he was in no position to fire in a quick return throw.

  • Dananjaya did, by the way, ground his bat at the striker's end and return for the second in the regular fashion.

Where the umpires took issue with the batsmen, however, was that Roshen did not ground his bat at the non-strikers' end. He had been watching the ball and Moeen, and had seemingly neglected to ensure he completed the run.

Here is where the five penalty runs comes in. Law 18.5.1 states that:

"If either umpire considers that one or both batsmen deliberately ran short at that umpire's end, the umpire concerned shall, when the ball is dead, call and signal Short run and inform the other umpire of what has occurred and apply [five penalty runs]."

The primary reason for deliberately running a short run - I.e. crossing in the middle of the pitch, then crossing back without touching down, is to ensure the senior batsman in the partnership retains the strike, perhaps in a situation where the batsmen realise it is not possible to complete two runs in their entirety.

Here, however, Roshen was so close to the non-strikers when Moeen stopped the ball, that he could have virtually reached over and grounded his bat. The fact that he didn't appears more the result of an oversight on his part - perhaps he thought he had already completed the first run. In any case, there was no pressure to scamper back for the second. The batsmen jogged it and made it back to their original creases in plenty of time.

It is also important to note that at no point during this pair's 56-run partnership did either batsman turn down a single in order to manipulate the strike. They batted normally, in other words.

The umpires though, have ruled the short run intentional. England had five runs added to their first-innings total as a result, taking their score to 290.

"I don't think Roshen did it deliberately," said Dimuth Karunaratne at the close. "He thought the ball had gone for four so he came back to his partner to give a high five. Those things can happen. It's part of the game, we don't blame him. We are not so worried about the five runs."

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