Virat Kohli (left) and umpire Ruchira (Image courtesy: Getty)
Virat Kohli (left) and umpire Ruchira (Image courtesy: Getty)

Sri Lankan umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge had a lucky escape on Wednesday night. The 49-year-old could have lost his life succumbing to a serious injury, during the Sri Lanka-India T20I, at R Premadasa Stadium. Virat Kohli en route to a match-winning 82 struck a straight shot that missed the umpire by a whisker. Credit goes to Palliyaguruge, who averted the hit by falling on the ground. ALSO READ: Virat Kohli becomes 3rd-highest run-getter in Twenty20 Internationals

“It was a lightening strike. I would have tried my hands to stop the ball. I could do that,” Palliyaguruge was quoted in a report from PakObserver. There have been suggestions of umpires using helmet in the age of T20s. Australia’s Bruce Oxenford uses an arm protector to safeguard himself.

“Let other umpires have opinion on using the helmet. I am certain that I will not use helmet. I am fit enough to move out of danger. I work hard everyday to be fit for the job. I go to gym four or five times a week. My cricketing background helps me in anticipation of the ball. Had it been deflected off my body nothing would have happened but had it been caught by a fielder after deflection on my body, Kohli would have been out”, the umpire added.

Palliyaguruge was seen sporting a smile after that escape. He was awarded International Umpire of the Year 2015. He was an excellent cricketer at the domestic level, but was unfortunate to not get a national cap. He played 146 First-Class games and scored 4,478 runs at 27.81 and claimed 220 wickets with his medium-pace at under 24. He has a bowling average of just over 24 in List A as well.