Sri Lankan police drops match-fixing investigation due to lack of evidence
Sri Lankan police has decided to drop a criminal probe into alleged match-fixing during the 2011 World Cup final, stating there was not enough evidence to back the accusations.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has declared that it will also be looking into the explosive allegations but found no reason to doubt India's victory in the World Cup final.
Earlier this week, former chief selector Aravinda de Silva, ex-skipper Kumar Sangakkara and opening batsman Upul Tharanga were separately questioned by detectives to root out the suspicions over Sri Lanka's defeat in the fateful encounter.
"We are satisfied with their explanation," a top police official was quoted as saying by AFP. "The inquiry is now closed."
The main concern related to the extraordinary amount of team changes made by Sri Lanka's team management just ahead of the final at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.
Sri Lanka were admittedly forced to make four changes to their playing XI that had triumphed over New Zealand in the semi-final since all-rounder Angelo Mathews contracted an injury.
Former Sri Lanka sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who served in the position at the time of the event, raised this as a suspicious move last month.
But the police officer confirmed the players and the chief selector had mitigated these doubts.
"They had reasonable explanations about the changes that were made to the final squad," he said. "We found no evidence of any wrongdoing."
Meanwhile, the ICC said it would independently review its findings if provided with credible evidence.
"We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously and should we receive any evidence to corroborate the claims, we will review our current position," said ICC anti-corruption chief Alex Marshall.
"If anyone has any evidence that this match or any other has been subject to match-fixing, we would urge them to get in contact with the ICC Integrity team."
The investigation's sudden conclusion arrived after then vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene was scheduled to give his testimony to the police. He was refused entry and was asked to come at a later date as the authorities wrapped up the proceedings.
"We will give our maximum cooperation," Jayawardene told reporters.
Jayawardene had been called in a day after Sangakkara was subjected to intense interrogation for nearly 10 hours on Thursday.
The mood among Sri Lanka's cricket-loving populace has been rather hostile in response to Aluthgamage's allegations with the politician receiving extensive backlash on social media and elsewhere.
Opposition legislator Bimal Rathnayake posted a sarcastic tweet criticising the police for their extensive questioning of MCC president Sangakkara.
He wrote: "Generally 50 over cricket match lasts around 7-8 hours, even if all 100 overs bowled. Committee questioned Sanga for 9hours! Did they question him ball by ball?"
Another former prominent figure in Sri Lanka's sports ministry, Harin Fernando suggested filing a case against Aluthgamage for trying to defame the country's cricket heroes.
Sri Lanka were overcome by the MS Dhoni-led India in a hotly contested final as the hosts managed to cross the finishing line with six wickets in hand. Sangakkara's men looked in control of the match during the initial part of India's chase before Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir stitched a fine partnership to rescue their side.