Match-Fixing Returns, Al Jazeera Claims India-Sri Lanka Test Fixed
India’s captain Virat Kohli, right, shakes hands with Sri Lankan captain Rangana Herath after their win in the first test cricket match in Galle.
India’s captain Virat Kohli, right, shakes hands with Sri Lankan captain Rangana Herath after their win in the first test cricket match in Galle.(Photo: AP)

Match-Fixing Returns, Al Jazeera Claims India-Sri Lanka Test Fixed

A Test match between India and Sri Lanka last year might have been played on a pitch doctored at the behest of match-fixers, a sting operation has claimed, prompting the ICC to launch an investigation into the matter today.

The Al Jazeera television network claims that a well-known former Mumbai first-class cricketer Robin Morris, who is now allegedly a match-fixer, admitted to his involvement in bribing a groundsman at Galle last year to alter the pitch.

The sting operation is to be aired tomorrow but snippets of it have been posted online by the Qatar-based channel.

Responding to the latest round of sensational allegations with regards to the integrity of the much-maligned sport, the ICC said it is investigating.

We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from Member countries based on the limited information we have received,
Alex Marshall, ICC GM (Anti Corruption Unit)

“We have made repeated requests that all evidence and supporting materials relating to corruption in cricket is released immediately to enable us to undertake a full and comprehensive investigation. Sri Lanka Cricket, on its part, said it would cooperate with the ICC and reiterated its “zero tolerance” policy on corruption,” said Alex Marshall.

Ashley De Silva, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket is in contact with the CEO of the International Cricket Council Mr. David Richardson...and will take immediate action against any person involved in the alleged incident, if found guilty.
Sri Lanka Cricket’s statement

“In the meantime, Sri Lanka Cricket is constantly engaged with the ICC and is following its guidelines on how to handle anti-corruption operations for the forthcoming tours in Sri Lanka,” read the statement.

The match in question was the first Test between India and Sri Lanka at Galle from July 26-29.

The groundsman, Tharanga Indika, assistant manager at the Galle stadium, says he can make pitches to favour either bowlers or batsmen. If you want a pitch for spin bowling or pace bowling or batting, it can be done
Al Jazeera’s website

In the clipping, the 41-year-old Morris, who played 42 first-class matches but never competed for India, gestures towards Indika, and says: “What happens is he - we - can make a pitch to do whatever we want it to do. Because he's the main curator. He is the assistant manager and curator of the Galle stadium,” the website quotes Morris.

Meanwhile, Rajeev Shukla, chairman of Indian Premier League, declined to comment on the matter but said that the issue falls under the jurisdiction of ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) so the only ICC can take cognizance in the matter.

This is the work of ICC (ACU). They will probe the matter. We don’t have any report on the matter. ICC will take cognizance.
Rajeev Shukla, Chairman, IPL

The track in that match was a belter on which India won by 304 runs.

India scored 600 in the first innings with Shikhar Dhawan plundering 190 and Cheteshwar Pujara 153.

In the second innings, India managed 240 for three declared with skipper Virat Kohli scoring an unbeaten hundred. Sri Lanka could only muster 291 and 245 in their two innings and were beaten comprehensively within four days.

Indika allegedly claimed to the website that he prepared the pitch for the batsmen.

India was set for a batting wicket. We pressed the wicket thoroughly with a roller and then we put water on it to make it even harder
Tharanga Indika quoted on the website

Morris, who had also played in the controversy-mired and now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL), allegedly told the undercover reporter that he will provide him with leads to place bets.

In fact, the former India U-19 seamer-all-rounder also claimed that the next "pitch fix" will happen during England's tour of Sri Lanka in November, this year at the same venue.

Pitch doctoring controversy is not new in Sri Lankan cricket. In early 2016, the ICC suspended the erstwhile Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera for three years after he refused to co-operate with the Anti-Corruption Unit.

Warnaweera, on two separate occasions, had failed to attend scheduled interviews with the ACU in relation to a then ongoing investigation and failed to provide documents required from him in connection with the investigation.

(With inputs from PTI)

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