Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
Sri Lanka Cricket has expressed further skepticism about the parts of the Al Jazeera documentary that implies certain Test pitches in the country were prepared to suit bettors. The surface prepared for the 2016 Test against Australia in Galle, in particular, was defended. Where the the documentary implies gambling interests dictated the bowler-friendly nature of that surface, SLC was at pains to emphasise the cricketing reasons for how that pitch turned out.
Sri Lanka had won that match comprehensively, their spinners sharing 18 wickets. Australia had succumbed to 106 all out and 183 all out. ESPNcricinfo can also confirm that the team had requested a turning track for that game. The Al Jazeera documentary makes no allegations about any Sri Lanka players in that match.
"It's true that during that Australia Tests our spinners got wickets," SLC vice-president Mohan de Silva said. "But quicks actually got the wickets for Australia. Mitchell Starc took the most wickets for them (Starc took 11 wickets, the most in the match). And when you look at Sri Lanka, our strength has always been spin. Muttiah Muraitharan's got 800 wickets and Rangana Herath's got more than 400. So the fact that we make spinning wickets is not extraordinary. It's a normal thing."
The documentary made particular note of the brevity of that game, which lasted less than two-and-a-half days. The alleged fixer in the video is also seen claiming that the game finished so early, "[by the] third day I was in Bombay". SLC has suspended the assistant manager who Al Jazeera claimed had told them that pitch was fixed, but nevertheless, did not fully buy into the wrongdoing implied. The surface was given a "below average" rating by the ICC - which is on the lower end of the marking scale, but not poor enough for the venue to receive official censure.
"What they say about this Test is that it ends in two-and-a-half days, but neither the umpires, nor match referee had given a negative report," Mohan de Silva said. "It's hard for us to trust that something wrong has happened there. But the ICC is carrying out an inquiry, and we have no intention of ever protecting a wrongdoer."
The board would not give a firm word on whether they were confident that no tampering of the pitch by those connected to bettors ever occurred, however. When asked that question, SLC CEO Ashley de Silva merely said it would be wrong for the board to comment while the ICC investigation was ongoing.
On Sunday, SLC officials had also denied that the person Al Jazeera's allegations hang upon, was in fact capable of altering the state of the pitch. In general, Galle surfaces tend to be spin-friendly; the three highest wicket-takers at the venue are Muralitharan (111 dismissals), Herath (94 dismissals) and Dilruwan Perera (35 dismissals) - all spinners. There has not been a draw there since 2013.