Sri Lanka "chickened out" of their fifth and final ODI against India fearing defeat and match referee Alan Hurst unnecessarily called off the match, an unrepentant Delhi and District Cricket Association alleged in New Delhi on Monday.
DDCA vice president and former Test player Chetan Chauhan claimed while the match was held up after 23.3 overs with the officials pondering whether it would be wise to carry on, Hurst told him unofficially that the Lankans, who were reeling at 83 for five at that stage, were reluctant to carry on.
"The match referee told me unofficially that one side did not want to carry on and he could not force them. It could not be India since (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni was willing to continue. Sri Lanka were at 83 for five and that's why they backed out...It was the Sri Lankans who chickened out," a defiant Chauhan told Times Now.
Blaming Hurst, Chauhan said the match referee erred in calling off the game.
"Everybody involved with the game is to be blamed for the fiasco, including the match referee. I don't think the match would have been called off had it been in Australia or South Africa. Had the pitch been dangerous for play, the match would have been called off inside five overs and it could not have gone on to the 24th.
"I agree this was not ideal for international matches but this was neither unplayable or dangerous. I've played on similar tracks, even on worse. I never realised a match could be called off so easily," Chauhan wondered.
"We offered another wicket and said 'give us one hour and you would have it ready'. But he decided to call it off.
"The match should have continued because some 45,000 people were in the ground and another 2-3 crores were glued to the television. Only nine out of 130-odd deliveries either went low or above the normal bounce and that doesn't qualify the match to be cancelled. An honest effort should have been made to save the match," Chauhan said.
Later talking to reporters after an executive committee meeting at DDCA president Arun Jaitley's house, Chauhan toned down his stand and hoped the ICC, which has sought an explanation from BCCI on the fiasco, would understand that it was merely an "accident".
"We are absolutely sure that ICC would realise that it was a genuine mistake, an accident and not something deliberate," he said.
The DDCA official also passed the buck to the Daljit Singh-led BCCI Grounds and Pitches Committee which was disbanded on Sunday.
"We own up the moral responsibility and we don't want to shirk responsibility but the pitch and the ground were prepared according to the instruction of Daljit and his committee. We merely obeyed whatever we were told, for they are the experts and we are not," Chauhan said.