Dubai: A fresh upheaval has gripped Sri Lanka’s cricket community at their former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s sensational charges that the 2011 World Cup final between India and his country had been ‘fixed’ by certain groups. Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co had beaten Lanka by six wickets in an edge-of-the-seat final to regain the title after 28 years.
Aluthgamage’s claims has stirred up the Sri Lankan government, which ordered a probe into the final at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday and present Sports minister Dullas Alahapperuma has asked for a report on its progress every two weeks, the ministry said in a statement.
“The 2011 final was fixed. I state it with responsibility and I can come forward for a debate… I would not involve the cricketers in this. However, certain groups were definitely involved in fixing the game,” Aluthgamage told a TV channel on Thursday.
The allegations have evoked strong reactions from the grame’s fraternity, from the country’s cricket board to its leading cricketers and journalists. Dismissing the former minister’s charges, Mohan De Silva, secretary of Cricket Sri Lanka told Gulf News over phone from Colombo: ‘‘I don’t know what prompted him to make these allegations after all these years. It undermines the credibility of some of our legendary cricketers like Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga - as well as India for their creditable victory.’’
Kumar Sangakkara, the captain of the team on that occasion and now president of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for a second term, said: ‘‘He needs to take his evidence to the ICC and the Anti Corruption and Security Unit so the claims can be investigated thoroughly.’’
When contacted by Gulf News, an ICC spokesperson said: ‘‘We look forward to talking to him to see if there are any matters worthy of investigation.’’
Mahela Jayawardene, another former captain who scored an unbeaten 103 in that match, was sarcastic at Aluthgamage’s suggestion that ‘‘certain group’’ had fixed this game. ‘‘When someone accuses that we sold the 2011 World Cup naturally it’s a big deal cus we don’t know how one could fix a match and not be part of the playing XI? Hopefully we will get enlightened after 9 years,’’ he tweeted.
Intriguingly enough, the final had evoked an element of controversy time and again in these nine years with Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning captain and a legendary figure in the game, demanding an investigation into their 2011 defeat three years back.
“I was also in India giving commentaries at the time. When we lost, I was distressed and I had a doubt,” Ranatunga said. “We must investigate what happened to Sri Lanka at the 2011 World Cup final.”
Sri Lanka, batting first, scored 274-6 off 50 overs and appeared in a commanding position when Sachin Tendulkar was caught for 18. India turned the game dramatically thanks to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka - with Dhoni taking India over the line with a sixer.
A senior cricket writer and insider to the Lankan dressing room, Rex Clementine, sees no reason to take the former minister’s allegations seriously. ‘‘He (Aluthgamage) was Sports Minister for four years after the World Cup and didn’t initiate an inquiry. so what’s the point in raising a hue and cry now. Besides, he has a history of shooting from the hip. It’s all a faux pas on his part,’’ Clementine felt.