ICC confirms Anti-Corruption Unit probe in Sri Lanka following match-fixing allegations made by Pramodya Wickramasinghe

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The probe comes after allegations of wrongdoing by a former selector.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed on Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Sri Lankan cricket after allegations of match-fixing by former cricketer Pramodya Wickramasinghe.

The ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) officers have visited Sri Lanka in this regard.

Former Islanders pacer Wickramasinghe had alleged wrongdoings in the country’s 3-2 defeat to Zimbabwe in a five-match ODI series in July earlier this year.

Wickramasinghe, also a former selector, had made the particular allegation with regards to the fourth match of the series which the hosts lost via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Following the sensational claims of the former selector, 40 Sri Lankan players including Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal and ODI captain Upul Tharanga had signed a letter urging Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to launch an immediate enquiry into the allegations which they consider to be shocking and demeaning.

“The cricketers in a petition signed by all including both captain Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have drawn attention to what they say was shockingly disparaging and hurtful statements by Wickremesinghe to a private television channel that tend to give the general public a suspicious impression about them,” a SLC release said.

The ICC’s General Manager (ACU) Alex Marshall confirmed that officers have visited the country regarding the allegations and that an investigation was underway.

“The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit works to uphold integrity in cricket and this includes conducting investigations where there are reasonable grounds to do so. There is currently an ICC (ACU) investigation underway in Sri Lanka. Naturally as part of this we are talking to a number of people,” Marshall said.

“We will not comment any further on an ongoing investigation. If anyone has information that would assist the ACU in its enquiries ([email protected]), we would urge them to get in touch, “ he added.

Wickramasinghe was a member of the 1996 World Cup-winning side from the island and played 40 Tests and 134 ODIs for the country.

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A top-order rejig can help Australian team rediscover their one-day mojo in India

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It's been a struggle at the top for Australia.

Australia captain Steven Smith lamented another batting collapse at Eden Gardens as his team went 2-0 down in the five match ODI series in India. Chasing a modest target of 253 on Thursday, the Aussies had a few thing going for them. The outfield retained moisture following a brief shower and late evening dew, which meant the Indian bowlers struggled to grip the ball for the latter part of the innings.

Even after the tourists lost two early wickets, Smith and Travis Head were on top of things and handled the biggest threat – wrist spinners – competently. Then, Yuzvendra Chahal bowled a knee-high full toss, Head smashed to it mid-wicket and the wheels came off.

The Aussies are understandably perturbed at the alarming dip in form; they have now lost 10 away completed ODIs in a row. While it is easier said than done, they should look at their own efforts in India over the years in ODIs and draw strength from it.

The Australians have struggled in the longest format in India but have excelled in ODIs. Remember the iconic 2001 series in India where Harbhajan Singh single-handedly dismantled the mighty Aussies? Well, the Baggy Green won the ODI series 3-2. The Aussies lost the 2008 Border-Gavaskar Test Trophy 2-0 but had won the seven-match ODI series the previous year 4-2 and clinched a seven-match series in 2009 by the same margin. They were blanked 4-0 in Tests in 2013 and later in the year lost a closely contested ODI clash 3-2, bowled out for 326 chasing 384 with five overs to spare in the final match.

So what was it that worked so well? The answer is simple – a top-class top order.

In 2001, Australia’s top three of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting got the better of the Indians. Six years later, it was Hayden – 290 runs from five innings – who played a big role in maintaining Australia’s stronghold.

In 2009, Shane Watson’s consistency at the top – 256 runs from six innings without a ton – helped the men in green and gold emerge victorious. It is, therefore, not surprising to see Smith’s side struggling in India right now.

David Warner and Hilton Cartwright found it tough to put bat to ball in the first two matches and that has had a cascading effect. India’s top order, on the other hand, got back on track after the first match with Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli scoring commanding fifties on a tough wicket in Kolkata.

Opener Aaron Finch’s calf injury put a spanner in Australia’s works before the series started and it is unlikely that a greenhorn like Cartwright will be able to tackle Indian conditions with the visitors already behind in the series.

The best way forward is to have Head open with Warner, Peter Handscomb bat in the middle with Smith staying at one down. Warner’s role should be to hold the innings together while one of either Smith or Handscomb can take on the spinners as both have proven their credentials against top-class slow bowlers in the longest format.

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Sarfraz Ahmed will make his Test captaincy bow for Pakistan.

Sarfraz Ahmed will take charge of his first series as the captain of the Pakistan Test squad in the upcoming bilateral series against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan are scheduled to play two Tests against the Sri Lankans, starting on September 28 in their second home, the UAE.

This in fact will be the first such series where Pakistan will be without the services of the iconic Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, both of whom called time on their distinguished careers after the tour of West Indies earlier this year.

Sarfraz created history earlier this summer when he led Pakistan to a surprise maiden ICC Champions Trophy triumph in England.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had announced the 16-man squad for the Sri Lanka series on Friday with a maiden call-up for left-arm pacer Mir Hamza and off-spinning all-rounder Bilal Asif.

There was disappointment for teenage leg-spinning sensation Shadab Khan though. The 18-year-old, who has created ripples ever since bursting onto the international scene earlier this year against West Indies, has not been selected.

The series in the UAE will mark the start of a new era in Pakistan cricket which has shown plenty of upswings lately.

After winning the Champions Trophy against all the odds, the Mickey Arthur coached side recently completed a 2-1 win in the Independence Cup over the visiting ICC World XI at Lahore as international cricket made a long-awaited comeback to the country.

The upcoming series against Sri Lanka will also feature a day-night Test in Dubai, which will be a first for the islanders. Apart from the Tests, the two sides will play five ODIs and three T20Is.

Sri Lanka are coming into the series on the back of a thumping at the hands of the Indians in the Tests and the limited-overs series. The team was whitewashed in all the three-formats in their own backyard, a first for them in their long cricketing history.

Sri Lanka had named a 15-man squad led by Dinesh Chandimal for the series but the islanders have suffered a huge setback after stalwart Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the opening Test.

The all-rounder suffered a grade one tear to his calf-muscle during a training session on Wednesday.

The third and final T20I which was originally supposed to take place at the UAE has now been shifted to Lahore with Sri Lanka agreeing to play in Pakistan for the first time since the terrorist attacks on its team bus in 2009.

PAKISTAN 16-MAN SQUAD FOR TESTS

Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Abbas, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Wahab Riaz.

SRI LANKA 15-MAN SQUAD FOR TESTS

Dinesh Chandimal (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Rangana Herath, Lakshan Sandakan, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishva Fernando, Lahiru Gamage.

Standby: Dhananjaya De Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Kumara, Dasun Shanaka.

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