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Former Sri Lanka spinner Senanayake arrested for match-fixing

Former Sri Lanka spin bowler Sachithra Senanayake was on Wednesday arrested for match-fixing by Sri Lanka police under a law aiming to stamp out rampant corruption in cricket.

The 38-year-old was taken into custody by a police unit investigating sports-related crimes, a police spokesman told AFP.

Formal charges were yet to be filed, but the spokesman said the arrest was in connection with an incident from the 2020 Lanka Premier League (LPL).

A court impounded Senanayake’s passport last month during a police investigation into the allegations.

Senanayake, who last played for Sri Lanka in 2016, is accused of influencing two LPL players to fix matches in 2020.

Police said Senanayake is the first player to be prosecuted under a 2019 law that makes match-fixing a criminal offence.

A conviction could result in a maximum of 10 years in jail, a fine of up to 100 million rupees ($309,000) or both.

Former sports minister Harin Fernando introduced the tough new law after saying the International Cricket Council (ICC) considered Sri Lanka one of the most corrupt cricket nations.

Another former sports minister, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, told parliament in 2021 that match-fixing was rife in the country.

Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga in 2012 urged fans to boycott matches in protest against what he called “mismanagement, corruption and indiscipline” in the national team.