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Cricket World Cup: Network apologises to Jayawardene


Highlights - Pakistan upset hosts Sri Lanka (UK users only)

By Charles Haviland and Saroj Pathirana

The state television broadcaster accused of implying Sri Lanka vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene was guilty of match-fixing has apologised.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief DS de Silva said the board would not be taking any legal action "for the moment".

De Silva said: "They have already made an unconditional apology. They promised to send the apology in writing."

It was suggested the vice-captain deliberately played badly for financial gain in Saturday's defeat by Pakistan.

Formwe Sri Lanka leg-spinner De Silva said the remarks broadcast on Sri Lankan state TV network ITN was an "attempt to demolarise our team".

He added: "We have written to ITN asking for an explanation. This is a very serious offence by them. It is a false report. That's why we wrote to them and sought and explanation."

Jayawardene had said his lawyer was drafting a letter to "get to the bottom" of the accusation.

The allegation was also levelled at batsman Thilan Samaraweera.

Sri Lanka lost Saturday's World Cup game against Pakistan by 11 runs, with Jaywardene scoring two runs while Samaraweera scored one.

A commentary on Sunday on Sri Lankan state TV network ITN, written by the editor of a state newspaper, Mahinda Abeysundara, said a businessman had bet about 18,000 dollars on a Pakistan victory and that there had therefore been what he called a "chorus to change the game".

The commentator then remarked: "We just think Mahela and Thilan may have changed the game."

The commentary was accompanied by slow-motion extracts from the match, sad music and blurry shots implying financial impropriety.

The country's cricket board, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), has firmly backed its players, describing the broadcast as "baseless and thereby demoralising".

An SLC statement added: "Sri Lanka Cricket will be taking this matter up with the relevant authorities of this channel, based on the fact that this channel has brought great distress to two of our national cricketers who have served Sri Lanka Cricket with honour and dignity throughout their illustrious careers so far."

The team's fans, too, reacted angrily on social networking sites such as Facebook.

One said: "How dare you tell that Mahela and Thilan are betrayers... this is so disgusting." Another called the coverage "shameless".

In response, the channel said it was deeply concerned if the programme had hurt the two players but issued no retraction or apology.

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see also
Efficient Pakistan beat Sri Lanka
26 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Pakistan v Sri Lanka as it happened
26 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup photos
26 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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