Sri Lankan cricketer Rangana Herath celebrates after dismissing West Indies cricketer Kemar Roach during the final day of their second Test cricket match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at The P. Sara Oval Cricket Stadium in Colombo on October 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S. KODIKARA
Sri Lankan cricketer Rangana Herath celebrates after dismissing West Indies cricketer Kemar Roach during the final day of their second Test cricket match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at The P. Sara Oval Cricket Stadium in Colombo on October 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S. KODIKARA

A man linked to a bookmaker had  offered wicketkeeper Kusal Perera and star bowler Rangana Herath (in pic) tens of thousands of dollars to engineer a  Sri Lankan batting collapse at a Test  in Galle in October, which the hosts  went on to win emphatically.

Colombo : Sri Lankan authorities are investigating a bid to bribe members of the national cricket team to under-perform in a recent Test to ensure a surprise victory for the West Indies, the government stated on Friday. Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said a man linked to a bookmaker had offered wicketkeeper Kusal Perera and star bowler Rangana Herath tens of thousands of dollars to engineer a Sri Lankan batting collapse at a Test in Galle in October, which the hosts went on to win emphatically. “They wanted Sri Lanka to get out early for a very low score. This is a match Sri Lanka was expected to win, but if they lost, the bookie would have made a lot of money,” Jayasekera told AFP.

The minister said some 10 million rupees (around USD 70,000) had been offered to the players to lose the match. Police had mounted a search for the suspect who was said to have approached the two players. “After Kusal turned down the offer, the man approached Herath who also rejected the offer and alerted the authorities,” he said. “We have started a police inquiry in addition to an anti-corruption probe by Sri Lanka Cricket,” Jayasekera added, in reference to the national cricket board. Sri Lanka beat the tourists from the Caribbean by an innings and six runs after veteran left-arm spinner Herath took 10 wickets in the match on the country’s south coast. The West Indies, who have never won a Test match in Sri Lanka and went on to lose the two-match series 2-0, were rank outsiders for the showdown in Galle where the home team have a particularly strong record.

Jayasekera also suggested that Perera’s recent failure in a doping test during the ongoing tour of New Zealand may have been linked to his raising the alarm over the match-fixing attempt. “It is possible that something was slipped into his food or his urine sample was tampered with to get this result,” Jayasekera said of Perera, who was sent back to Sri Lanka after failing the doping test. “We are doing our best to defend him,” the minister added. Ashley de Silva, the chief executive of Sri Lanka Cricket, said the board could not discuss the case in line with International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption regulations. “Because of the anti-corruption regulations, we cannot say anything,” de Silva told AFP. However a source on the board confirmed that the organisation was conducting its own investigation into the claims.

“The two players brought this to our notice,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. Although betting is illegal in most of the cricket-mad Indian subcontinent, there is no shortage of backstreet bookmakers, many of whom have links to the underworld.

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