A test match played between India and Sri Lanka in July last year was fixed, a sting operation has claimed, prompting International Cricket Council (ICC) to launch an investigation on the matter on Saturday.
The sting operation carried out by Al Jazeera television network has suggested that match between the two South-Asian countries was played on a pitch doctored at the behest of match-fixers.
The report in the channel claimed that former Mumbai first-class cricketer Robin Morris had confessed he was involved in bribing a groundsman at Galle to alter the pitch. Morris is allegedly a match-fixer now.
The sting operation would be aired on Sunday but snippets of it were posted online by the channel.
ICC has reacted strongly to the allegations of match-fixing and launched an investigation based on the information.
''We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from Member countries based on the limited information we have received,” ICC GM (Anti Corruption Unit) Alex Marshall said in a statement.
“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'', he added.
Sri Lanka Cricket, in a statement, said “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’’.
“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.
The match which has been claimed to be fixed was played at Galle from July 26-29 between India and Sri Lanka.
“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,” the Qatar based said on its website.
In the clipping, Robin Morris gestured towards Indika, and said: “What happens is he - we - can make a pitch to do whatever we want it to do.” The 41-year old had played 42 first-class matches but never in his career competed for India.
India had secured victory in the Galle test by 304 runs. The Virat Kohli-led team scored 600 in the first innings with Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara leading from the front and scoring 190 and 153 respectively.
India had declared their second innings at 240/3, with Kohli smashing an unbeaten ton. Sri Lanka could only score 291 and 245 in their two innings and suffered a loss within four days.
Indika allegedly claimed to the website that he prepared the pitch suitable 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,” Indika was quoted as saying in the video of the sting operation.
Morris, who also played in the now defunct Indian Cricket League, allegedly told the undercover reporter that he would provide him with leads to place bets.
In a shocking confession, Morris said that the next “pitch fix” would take place during England’s tour of Sri Lanka in November 2018 at the same venue.
(With PTI inputs)