Ex-Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara grilled in World Cup fixing probe


Ex-Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara grilled in World Cup fixing probe

Friday, July 03, 2020

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara was questioned for nearly 10 hours yesterday by detectives probing explosive allegations the 2011 Cricket World Cup final was fixed under his captaincy.

Sangakkara, 42, was called in to the police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) examining the conduct of the final, which Sri Lanka lost to India at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.

“I came here to give a statement because of my responsibility to the game and respect for cricket,” Sangakkara said after the end of his marathon questioning by detectives.

“I hope at the end of this investigation, the truth about the allegations made by [former Sports Minister] Mahindananda Aluthgamage will come out.”

He did not discuss the line of questioning by the SIU which later announced Sangakkara's then Vice-Captain Mahela Jayawardena will be questioned on Friday.

Their opening batsman at the final, Upul Tharanga, was the first player to be questioned. He was interviewed by the SIU over two hours on Wednesday, a day after chief selector Aravinda de Silva spent over six hours answering questions about the finals.

Sangakkara is the most high-profile player to be questioned in connection with the stunning match-fixing allegation which was raised last month by Aluthgamage, who was also the sports minister during the 2011 competition.

Sangakkara is also the current president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in London. Before turning up at the SIU yesterday, Sangakkara said Aluthgamage's allegations should be referred to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

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. Sangakkara and his deputy 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.

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