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Documentary implicates Sri Lankan curator in fixing scandal

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

An Al Jazeera documentary, set to air on Sunday May 27 morning, purportedly throws light on a match-fixing scandal involving the curator of the Galle International Stadium in Sri Lanka.

In the documentary, Tharanga Indika, the curator and assistant manager at the Galle venue, reportedly claimed to be able to prepare a pitch to suit a desired result.

According to The Australian, the documentary is set to air allegations that the pitch used for the 2016 Test at Galle, which Australia lost by 229 runs after being bowled out for 106 and 183, was doctored.

Al Jazeera’s investigation also is expected to reveal how the pitch for the India-Sri Lanka Test at the venue in 2017 was excessively altered to favour the batsmen. The alleged match-fixers – Robin Morris and Tharindu Mendis – are shown, with hidden cameras, paying Indika reportedly $37,000 to doctor the pitch.

Sri Lanka beat Australia by 229 runs in Galle, bowling them out for 106 and 183

Sri Lanka beat Australia by 229 runs in Galle, bowling them out for 106 and 183

The match-fixers then placed a bet on a high first-innings score, with India subsequently scoring 600 in that innings.

“India was set for a batting wicket. Our guys didn’t play well,” Indika is captured saying in the documentary. “Yes, if you want a pitch for spin bowling or pace bowling or batting, it can be done.

“We leave the wicket uncovered for about two weeks. Don’t water it and this will cause damage to the wicket.”

Mendis is also captured speaking of ways in which to ensure the doctoring escapes scrutiny from ICC officials inspecting the pitch. “One thing he can do during the match is the brush thing,” Mendis says. “You just do it slowly. What they do then is press it inward.”

The pitch for the Sri Lanka-India Galle Test was allegedly doctored for a high first-innings total

The pitch for the Sri Lanka-India Galle Test in 2017 was allegedly doctored for a high first-innings total

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been in touch with Al Jazeera, and although the news organisation has not shared information, the ICC has launched its own investigation into the matter.

In a statement, the ICC said: “We will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously. We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from member countries based on the limited information we have received.

“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.”

The Telegraph reported that Indika and Morris had denied involvement in pitch-fixing.

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