Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka is set to stand trial in a Sydney court next week on allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman inside her eastern suburbs home.
The 32-year-old batsman, who is currently in Australia to play in the T20 World Cup, is facing one count of sexual intercourse without consent.
According to police, Gunathilaka matched with the woman on a dating app and they chatted several times before they met on November 2 last year. The pair had drinks in the city before they went back to the woman’s home in the eastern suburbs about 11pm.
The woman alleges that Gunathilaka sexually assaulted her after they returned to her home. She reported the alleged assault to police the following day.
Gunathilaka was arrested and charged with sexual assault in December last year. He was granted bail and allowed to return to Sri Lanka to play cricket.
In February this year, Gunathilaka pleaded not guilty to the charge. His trial is scheduled to begin on Monday and is expected to last three to four days.
Gunathilaka is a former Sri Lankan captain and has played 26 Tests, 99 ODIs, and 38 T20Is. He is considered to be one of the best batsmen in Sri Lanka.
The trial will be heard by a judge alone, without a jury. This is because Gunathilaka’s lawyers argued that a jury trial would be unfair, given the high level of media attention the case has received.
The trial is expected to be closely watched by the Sri Lankan cricket community. Gunathilaka’s acquittal would allow him to return to Sri Lanka and resume his playing career. However, a conviction would likely end his cricket career.