Sri Lanka lifts Gunathilaka ban after sexual assault acquittal

Sri Lanka lifts Gunathilaka ban after sexual assault acquittal

Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka had his playing ban lifted on Tuesday, weeks after he was cleared of sexual assault by a court in Australia.

The 32-year-old batsman was arrested in November last year just hours after his country lost to England in their final Twenty20 World Cup match in Australia.

But he returned home after his September acquittal, telling reporters outside the court that he could not wait “to go back and play cricket”.

Gunathilaka was still subject to disciplinary proceedings from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), but the board announced Tuesday he was now free to return to the game.

A committee investigating his conduct had “unanimously recommended an immediate lifting of his cricketing ban, allowing him to resume regular cricket activities and return to national duty”, an SLC statement said.

“They have also cautioned Mr. Gunathilaka to always uphold his status as a representative of the nation in all his future actions,” it added.

Gunathilaka was initially accused of four counts of sexual intercourse without consent after arranging to meet a woman at a bar near the Sydney Opera House through a dating app.

Prosecutors had argued he removed a condom during sex without telling the woman, who had only agreed to protected sex, according to a report by Australian public broadcaster ABC.

SLC suspended him after he was charged.

Three of the four charges against him were dropped in May and he was found not guilty of the fourth.

Gunathilaka made his international debut in 2015 and has played eight Tests, 47 ODIs and 46 T20Is. (AFP)

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