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21 Dec 2003 00:00
Police investigators are looking into the discovery of a large sum of money found in hotel room of Sri Lanka’s limited-over squad captain Marvan Atapattu after the team checked out at Kandy last week.
The Sri Lankan police Criminal Investigation Department was informed that 1,1-million rupees ($11 500) was found by the Kandy hotel’s staff after the conclusion of the test match between Sri Lanka and England played between December 10-14, which ended in a draw.
“We’re investigating the recovery of a large sum of money from a room in the hotel where the Sri Lankan cricketers stayed in Kandy,” an investigator said on the condition of anonymity.
The news about the money’s recovery was made public by the Sunday Observer newspaper, which did not identify the player but said he was a “top order batsman, who has never bowled.”
But Atapattu stepped out of the team’s dressing room at the start of the fourth day’s play in the third and final test match in Colombo to clarify his position to reporters.
“I have nothing to do with that money,” Atapattu said.
“I don’t carry such huge amounts of money while playing. I don’t know to whom the money belongs,” he added.
“Other people have stayed in that room before me and after I left the hotel.”
Atapattu (33) has represented Sri Lanka for 12 years since making his test debut against India at Chandigarh in the 1990-91 season.
A veteran of 68 tests and 201 one-day-internationals, Atapattu has captained Sri Lanka in ODI’s since May, after former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya stepped down to concentrate on his batting.
The Sri Lankan team’s manager, Ajith Jayasekera, said the cricket board has requested a quick probe to clear the picture.
“The cricket board was yesterday informed of the money, and board president Thilanga Sumathipala has asked for the inquiry,” Jayasekera said.
Six days have passed since the Sri Lankan team left the Kandy hotel, but Jayasekera did not say when the money was recovered from the room vacated by Atapattu.
The Sunday Observer newspaper said the money had been found by room cleaner after the team left for Colombo.
“He reported the matter to the hotel management, which contacted the Criminal Investigation Department,” the paper said.
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