Explained: Why Wanindu Hasaranga’s Test ban for the Bangladesh series is a shrewd move to exploit an ICC loophole

Sri Lanka‘s star spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga, surprised many when he reversed his decision to retire from Test cricket, just in time for the upcoming series against Bangladesh. Previously, Hasaranga had announced his retirement from the longest format in August last year, aiming to focus on white-ball cricket. This sudden return to Test cricket was met with optimism among Sri Lankan cricket fans, anticipating a strengthened squad to face Bangladesh.

The ban and its impact

However, the excitement was short-lived as the ICC imposed a ban on Hasaranga on Tuesday, March 19. During the third ODI of the recent series against Bangladesh, the right-armer was found guilty of breaching article 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel. The breach pertained to “showing dissent at an Umpire’s decision during an International Match.” The incident occurred in the 37th over when Hasaranga expressed dissatisfaction with an umpiring decision by snatching his cap and criticizing the officials.

Exploiting the ICC loophole

Interestingly, some fans found a silver lining in Hasaranga’s ban. They suggest that Hasaranga may have strategically exploited a loophole in ICC regulations to make himself available for the IPL and the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Hasaranga’s ban resulted in a 50 per cent fine and three demerit points, bringing his total to eight within 24 months. His previous demerit points stemmed from incidents during the series against Afghanistan, leading to a suspension for two T20Is. The accumulation of additional demerit points now translated into four suspension points.

Also READ: Bangladesh name 15-member squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka; Litton Das returns

The smart move

Consequently, Hasaranga faces a suspension that would see him miss either two Tests, four ODIs, or four T20Is, whichever comes first. Had he not reversed his Test retirement, this ban would have seen him absent for the first four matches of Sri Lanka’s T20I World Cup campaign, potentially impacting the team significantly.

However, his ban has unexpected benefits. Had he not been banned, Hasaranga would have missed the initial games for his IPL franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). With the ban in place, he remains available for the entire IPL 2024 season.

Reactions and analysis

Cricket pundits and players like South African spinner Tabraiz Shamsi noted the strategic nature of Hasaranga’s move, suggesting it was executed to perfection. While his absence may not have been felt strongly in the Bangladesh series, his availability for the T20 World Cup is deemed crucial. Additionally, Hasaranga’s desire to participate in IPL 2024 from the start aligns with his preparation for the forthcoming ICC event in the USA and the Caribbean.

Also READ: IPL 2024 – KKR mentor Gautam Gambhir reveals the ‘greatest team man he has ever played with’

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