Sri Lanka orders criminal investigation on claims of 2011 World Cup final being ‘sold’ to India

Written by Vishwas Gupta

After weeks of talks in the Sri Lankan cricketing fraternity over the 2011 World Cup final being fixed, the country has finally ordered criminal investigation into the matter. It all started when former Sri Lanka sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage claimed that some officials had sold the match to ensure an Indian victory in the showpiece event. While the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have outrightly denied it, a probe into the matter has finally begun.

“A criminal investigation has begun,” K.D.S. Ruwanchandra, the secretary to the sports ministry, told AFP. “It is handled by the (police) independent Special Investigation Unit on sports-related offences.”

“I feel I can talk about it now. I am not connecting players, but some sections were involved,” Aluthgamage said. As far as the latest developments into the matter goes, former skipper and chief selector for the 2011 finals, Aravinda de Silva, has been called up by the investigators for a chat on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka batted 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 dramatically, thanks in part to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka, who were led by Kumar Sangakkara. Sangakkara had said Aluthgamage should share his allegations with the global governing body the International Cricket Council.

Aluthgamage isn’t the only person to have spoken about the possibilities of the 2011 World Cup final being fixed. Even ex-Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga had cast the same doubt and asked for an investigation to be done on the matter.

The match is remembered as a closely fought one where the likes of Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni played pivotal roles in the team’s triumph while chasing 275 runs. It was only the second occasion that the Indian team had won the ODI World Cup, with the maiden victory coming back in 1983.

Corruption in cricket has been one of the biggest problems that the sport has faced over the years and Sri Lanka hasn’t been left untouched with it too. In November last year, fixing in cricket was made a criminal offence in Sri Lanka, with the culprits facing up to 10 years in prison as well as a fine of 100 million rupees. It remains to be seen what shape the probe into the 2011 World Cup final matter takes in the coming weeks.

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Vishwas Gupta