Colombo, March 2: A local Sri Lankan television network is in hot water for reportedly airing a programme in which a guest suggested that Sri Lankan batsmen Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera had deliberately thrown away their wickets in last Saturday's Group A match of the World Cup 2011 against Pakistan.
The opinion or observation has been construed by the Sri Lankan cricket board to an unfounded match-fixing allegation, somathing which it has not taken kindly to.
Jayawarende was bowled for 2 by a super-fast ball from Pakistan paceman Shoiba Akhtar, which the speed gun clocked at 149 kmph - the fastest delivery in the innings. Shortly afterward, Samaraweera was stumped off a special from leg-spinner Shahid Afridi for 1. Sri Lanka went on to lose the game by 11 runs.
After Sri Lanka Cricket threatened to sue the errant station, Independent Television Network (ITN) is now in damage control mode. The channel has denied that any of its panel of guests or the concerned host on the show entitled "Vimasuma", made the alleged accusation.
In a statement released shortly after its denial, the station said, "It must be emphasised that our intention was purely not to embarrass either Mahela Jayawardene or Thilan Samaraweera. We wish to express our deep concern if the contents of the programme had hurt both of them or any other party. Today's (Tuesday's) Vimasuma programme was based on making further clarifications with regard to the earlier programme."
Two months ago, The President of Sri Lanka himself, Mahinda Rajapakse had called on all the local media to desist from making derogatory statements against the team lest it damage their morale of the team.