Amal JAYASINGHE,AFP•July 1, 2020
Sri Lanka opener Upul Tharanga on Wednesday became the first player to be grilled by detectives in a probe investigating claims that the 2011 Cricket World Cup final was fixed.
The 35-year-old batsman and wicketkeeper was questioned for two hours by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) examining the conduct of the final, which Sri Lanka lost to India.
“They asked a few questions in connection with the ongoing investigation. I gave my statement,” Tharanga told reporters without giving further details.
Tharanga, who scored two runs off 20 deliveries in the match at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, was called in after investigators quizzed chief selector Aravinda de Silva for nearly six hours on Tuesday.
Police said they will next interview Kumar Sangakkara, the captain of the losing side and the current president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in London, who was asked to report to the SIU on Thursday.
There was no immediate comment from the 42-year-old, who last month said the allegations should be referred to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The Sri Lankan probe was launched after the then-sports minister claimed that Sri Lanka threw the April 2011 match.
“I feel I can talk about it now,” Mahindananda Aluthgamage told a local TV network last month. “I am not connecting players, but some sections were involved.”
Sri Lanka bat first and scored 274-6 off 50 overs. They appeared in a commanding position when Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar was out for 18.
But India turned the game around dramatically, thanks in part to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka, who were led by Kumar Sangakkara.
India won the final by six wickets.
Sangakkara and his deputy Mahela Jayawardena quit their positions in the team after the stunning defeat.
The toss of the final was also controversial as it was done twice. Match referee Jeff Crowe apparently did not hear “heads” called by Sangakkara and asked Indian skipper M. S. Dhoni to toss again.
Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat, a decision that was criticised in local media because the Sri Lankans were considered to be better at chasing at the time.
Sri Lankan cricket has been plagued by several corruption scandals, including claims of match-fixing ahead of a 2018 Test against England.
Last month the local cricket board said the ICC was investigating three unnamed ex-players over corruption claims.
Match-fixing was made a criminal offence in November. Offenders face fines of up to 100 million rupees ($555,000) and up to 10 years’ jail.