COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s cricket authorities on Tuesday denied allegations of match-fixing by two of their players in their World Cup defeat to Pakistan.
Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera may have deliberately “changed the game” by getting out cheaply and said the outcome would have been different had the pair scored more runs.
The channel said a local businessman had placed an $18,000 bet on Sri Lanka losing the game.
“We are treating the matter seriously,” said Nishantha Ranatunga, the secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket.
Sri Lanka, who are one of the favourites to win the tournament, fell short of Pakistan’s total of 277-7 by 11 runs on Saturday, leaving thousands at a packed R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo devastated.
“It is with deep regret that we note that a leading television channel in a special programme, namely ‘Wimasuma’, has stated that Sri Lanka has lost against Pakistan due to two of our leading players not getting runs in that game,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a press release.
“Further they added that the two players had failed intentionally, thereby implying that our players might have been involved in match-fixing,” said SLC.
“SLC strongly condemns the bona fides of this anchor, who hosted the programme carrying a story that is baseless and thereby demoralising our players during the ongoing World Cup.”
“SLC will take up the matter with the relevant authorities of this channel, based on the fact that this channel has brought great distress to two of our cricketers who have served the country with honour and dignity,” it added.
Jayawardene contributed two runs and Samaraweera one to Sri Lanka’s total of 266-9.
Jayawardene was considering legal action against the station for implying he was guilty of corruption, the BBC said.
Meanwhile Jayawardene has taken legal advice over the doubts raised by the television show.
“We are now in second thoughts whether Mahela and Thilan actually ‘changed the game’,” the narrator of the programme said, adding that if both had scored 30 runs together, Sri Lanka would have won.
Compared to other Asian neighbours, the 1996 World Cup champions have been relatively free from corruption and match-fixing scandals.
“People who make such allegations should be careful of what they say unless they have sufficient proof,” Sri Lanka’s team manager Anura Tennekoon told Reuters.
“The lawyers will decide what proper course of action should be taken,” he told Reuters.
Tennekoon denied there would be any inquiry from the SLC or from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“Knowing both Mahela and Thilan, we feel there is no necessity to investigate the matter and, as far as the ICC has concerned, they have the right to investigate but so far they have not brought anything on this,” Tennekoon said. “But we will discuss the matter with our lawyer as well.”
The game’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), told Reuters on Tuesday that each of the 49 matches at the World Cup were “to some extent” scrutinised by an anti-corruption unit.
A spokesman explained that unless the unit, which keeps its deliberations secret, planned action against a team or individual then the ICC itself would not be informed.
Also on Tuesday, an agency story suggesting that Australia were under investigation for slow scoring in a win against Zimbabwe was dismissed by team officials as “laughable”.
The ICC told Reuters they had heard nothing suggesting anything untoward.