On Saturday, August 30, 2014, Sri Lanka trounced Pakistan by seven wickets in the final One-Day International cricket match played at Dambulla, Sri Lanka, to clinch the series 2-1.
Pakistan had slumped to 81-8 in the 26th over of the first session when, an hour-long rain interrupted the play. The umpires reduced the game to 48-overs-a-side after the rain stopped.
Sri Lanka seamer Thisara Perera claimed 4-34, and Dhammika Prasad took two wickets and the hosts bowled Pakistan out for 102.
In the second session, Dilshan Tillakartane hit an unbeaten 50. Sri Lanka surpassed the Duckworth-Lewis target of 101 in the 19th over. It was apparently a one-sided game.
A video footage of the teams while they were leaving the field after Sri Lanka winning the series shows Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad allegedly delivering a religious comment to Dilshan Tillakartane. This has created an uproar in the cricketing circle.
The Associated Press report said that as the players headed back to the dressing room after Sri Lanka won the series, Ahmed Shehzad caught on camera told Dilshan “… if you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven.“
Dilshan’s reply was not clearly audible.
Then Shehzad continued saying, “Then, be ready for the fire,” the report added.
Dilshan Tillakartane and the Sri Lanka Cricket Board are unconcerned about the religion-focused comments Shehzad had supposedly made. Dilshan said he thought little of the exchange, and will not consider lodging a complaint. He said he does not remember what he said to Shazad. He further said that he had no issues at all because he was happy with the win. Michael de Zoysa, manager of the Sri Lanka team said, the SLCB Board will consider the matter closed.
The Pakistan Cricket Board became aware of the exchange after a journalist brought it to their notice. The footage went viral in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The PCB set up an inquiry under director of international cricket Zakir Khan and on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, summoned Shehzad for an explanation. The player said he came to know of Dilshan’s religious background during the match, and simply sought a lighthearted discussion. Shehzad said the video only showed part of their exchange, and that he had not wished to offend Dilshan.
Though no complaints have been, the PCB did not find a contract or code of ethics breach in Shehzad’s behaviour, he was officially reprimanded and not to engage in religious exchanges in the future.
Ahmed Shehzad was born on November 23, 1991 in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. He is a right-handed opening batsman and a part-time leg-break bowler. He played domestic cricket for Habib Bank Limited. He made his One-Day International and T20 debut for Pakistan against Australia on April 24, and May 7, 2009 respectively.
An incident happened at the end of the 19th over when Shehzad got involved in a debate with Dilshan, which ended with the former pushing Dilshan’s shoulder.
The on-field umpires Johan Cloete of South Africa and Pakistan’s Shozab Raza, as well as third umpire Richard Illingworth from England and fourth umpire Ahsan Raza of Pakistan laid the charge. The International Cricket Council (ICC) said Shehzad pleaded guilty to the offence.
Shehzad has been fined 50 percent of his match fee for pushing Sri Lankan opener Dilshan Tillakaratne during the third one-day game, the sport’s governing body said on Monday. The ICC statement said:
“The opener was found to have breached Article 2.2.4 of the ICC code of conduct for players and player support personnel, which relates to ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between Players in the course of play during an international match’.“
Dilshan Tillakaratne was born on October 14, 1976 in Kalutara, Sri Lanka, to a Ja (Malay) Muslim father and a Buddhist mother and was earlier known as Tuwan Mohamed Dilshan. His younger brother formerly carried the name Tuwan Mohamed Nishan Sampath was born on June 23, 1982 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and is a Sri Lankan first class cricketer.
When their parents got separated, Dilshan and his younger brother changed their religion and shed their Muslim names and took up an ethnic Sinhalese-Buddhist identity by changing their names to Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Dilshan and Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Nishan Sampath.
Dilshan’s childhood coach Ranjan Paranavitana said that even though Dilshan carried a Muslim name, from their childhood, he and his brothers and sisters followed Buddhism, their mother’s religion.
Another Sri Lanka cricketer Hewa Kaluhalamullage Suraj Randiv was earlier known as Suraj Mohammed.
Roshan Abeysinghe, the manager of both Dilshan Tillakaratne and Suraj Randiv said the players took up their mothers’ religion and identity for personal reasons. Abeysinghe also said that Dilshan wanted a Sinhala identity.
It is rumoured in certain quarters that both players changed their religion and names because being Sinhala-Buddhist enhanced their chances of selection to the highest levels in Sri Lankan cricket. But this rumour is just bull-shit, because Dilhara Fernando, Ajantha Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhammika Prasad and Chaminda Vaas are Catholics, and most of them make the sign of the cross before they start their bowling run. Russel Arnold is a Methodist Christian of Tamil descent, and Muthiah Muralidharan is a Tamil Hindu by birth.
- Ahmed Shehzad (en.wikipedia.org)
- Tillakaratne Dilshan (en.wikipedia.org)
- Dilshan’s name-change: Currying favour or not? (islandcricket.lk)
- Convert and You Will go to Heaven, Pakistani Cricketer Told Dilshan (sports.ndtv.com)
- Pakistan probe into Shehzad-Dilshan religious chat (miamiherald.com)