Arjuna and Aravinda deny revived match-fixing charges
Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and his deputy Aravinda de Silva Tuesday denied fresh allegations that they accepted bribes from an Indian bookmaker to lose the 1994 Lucknow Test against India.
“We have never taken bribes and we have never fixed matches,” Ranatunga told reporters in Colombo in the presence of de Silva. Both denied they had ever taken bribes to throw matches.
De Silva said he did not take the allegations seriously. They were made by former Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala who said de Silva had been paid $15,000 by an Indian bookmaker to lose the Lucknow Test. Sri Lanka lost the match by an innings and 119 runs.
“Not 15,000 dollars, but we could have made 15 million dollars if we threw the world cup,” Ranatunga said adding that they never played for money but were committed to the game and upholding the honour of the country.
“If anyone has thrown matches, they should be kicked out of the country,” Ranatunga added.
He said Sumathipala was repeating allegations made two and a half decades ago as part of a political vendetta.
Sumathipala in an unusual admission blamed himself for not taking action against Ranatunga and de Silva who were implicated by notorious Mumbai bookmaker Mukesh Kumar Gupta, better known as MK Gupta in the late 1990s.
Gupta who had turned a whistle blower told Indian investigators that he paid de Silva 15,000 dollars. De Silva told reporters on Tuesday that he never accepted money from Gupta.
A Sri Lankan investigation by lawyer Desmond Fernando had cleared both Ranatunga and de Silva after Gupta failed to testify before the local inquiry.
Sumathipala, who is a political rival of Ranatunga, said the man who led Sri Lanka to its first and only World Cup victory in 1996 should have been found guilty along with de Silva in early 2000 when the Gupta revelations were made in an Indian CBI (Central Bureau of Investigations) report.
“Arjuna and Aravinda are the first Sri Lankans to be accused of match fixing. They were accused of taking 15,000 dollars. We had a written report. The entire cricketing community is blaming me for not taking action against them at the time,” Sumathipala said at a public meeting over the weekend.