New Delhi: Suraj Randiv's deliberate no-ball to Virender Sehwag, which denied the Indian opener a hundred in their tri-series ODI match last night, came in for sharp criticism by former players who felt the Sri Lankan spinner's antics were "unsporting and unpardonable".
While iconic all-rounder and former World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev chose to remain mum on the issue, others such as Syed Kirmani and Ajit Wadekar felt Randiv's actions have set a bad precedent.
"On certain things, I do not want to react. It is not worth talking about. Some players are playing the game in their own ways. To me, it is important that India won the match. Sehwag deserves appreciation for the manner in which he handled the situation in scoring the 99-run knock," Kapil told PTI.
Former stumper Kirmani said cricket's reputation as a gentleman's game is getting tarnished due to acts such as these.
"These days, no team appreciates an opponent's good knock or good work with the ball. The game is played like a war between the teams. It is not in the spirit of the gentlemanly game," Kirmani said.
"Sehwag was magnanimous in his comments. To many followers of the game, including myself, it looked like unsporting behaviour by Randiv. I would not have done it. Randiv was bowling well and he is a capable bowler. He had the ability to take Sehwag's wicket and delay the proceedings instead of bowling a no ball," he added.
A disgusted Sehwag later criticised Randiv in the post-match press conference but the matter seems to have been settled amicably after Sri Lanka Cricket and Randiv offered apologies for the incident.
But Kirmani felt such unsporting acts should not be forgiven.
"I do not know whether it was a team strategy, if it is, it is an unpardonable act," he said.
Former all-rounder Madan Lal and ex-captain Ajit Wadekar echoed the sentiment.
"It's not cricket. That's not fair, not done in cricket. But a no-ball is a no-ball and the umpire had to declare it. It comes first and the ball becomes dead. Poor chap, Sehwag. He deserved a hundred," said Wadekar.
"I do not like teams to behave like that in matches. To me, it looked like a deliberate attempt. I appreciate Sehwag for the bold manner in which he remained not out to give India the important victory. However, Suraj Randiv's actions were in bad taste and it could affect the future matches of tri-series," felt Madan Lal.
"It is definitely unsporting behaviour. I don't know whether Sangakkara has done it or the bowler did it purposefully. In my opinion they should not have done it," Madan Lal said.
Former chief selector Chandu Borde, however, felt the Lankans should not be singled out for criticism as all teams have employed such tactics, including India.
"No team wants to allow a batsman to cross the century mark and all the teams in the world have succeeded on number of occasions in denying the batsman of a century. Even we Indians have followed this and never gave a freedom for the batsman to set a mark. It was a brilliant knock by Sehwag, he deserves all accolades," he said.
"I would not say it as 'not cricket'. Some people are generous to a fault but others, like the Australians, won't give you an easy hundred to take. There can be two opinions on this; whether Sri Lanka were unsporting or not.
"I remember (In Delhi in 1958-59 series) against the West Indies I had scored a century (109) in the first innings and was 96 batting in the second with (fast bowler Roy) Gilchrist repeatedly bowling bouncers at me. When two balls remained non-striker Vijay Manjrekar came and told me you have to get to the century. I hooked the next ball, it went for a four but I disturbed my wicket and was hit-wicket," he recalled.
"In the same match, we didn't allow Gary Sobers to get to his double hundred when he was on 199. It's part of the game. We Indians have also adopted such strategies. Even local cricket in India is played in that manner," he said.
Former left arm spinner Bapu Nadkarni felt the six hit by Sehwag off the no ball should have counted.
"The decision of the umpires is puzzling to me. A no-ball is bowled and the match is declared as over. Hypothetically speaking if Sehwag plays a shot and a run-out occurs, then what happens? How do you say the match is over and the ball is dead? It was not dead when Sehwag hit a six.
"I am not an expert on the rules but the no-ball is there to be taken advantage of by the batsman and Sehwag did it," he opined. PTI