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Sri Lanka welcome back less than rousing

Last updated on: April 3, 2011 19:10 IST

Only a handful of loyalists turned up at airport

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Sri Lanka's World Cup defeat to India failed to rouse fans at home as only a handful of loyalists responded to repeated appeals over state television to welcome the team on its return.

Sri Lankan authorities told local reporters on Friday that they will bring the team in an open motorcade from the Bandaranaike International airport irrespective of the final result, but plans were hurriedly changed.

The open motorcade turned out to be a luxury tourist coach with dark tinted glasses.

The 1996 champion team took more than five hours to reach the city from the airport. The team had a quick and easy ride to the city where a modest crowd greeted them after the red carpet was laid at the airport.


Image: Captain Sangakkara arrives at Independence Square in Colombo
Photographs: Reuters
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'Need to support team both in victory and defeat'

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Four elephants and traditional devil dancers escorted the team to Colombo's Independence Square where a few thousand fans showed up.

Only a handful of politicians were present at the airport and the independence square.

Among them was Prasanna Ranatunga, the chief minister of the western province and the brother of the 1996 captain Arjuna Ranatunga. He stressed the need to support cricketers both in victory and defeat.

Sri Lanka lost the final on Saturday at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium after India reached 277 for four in 48.2 overs, surpassing Sri Lanka's 275 runs with 10 balls left.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni played a captain's knock of 91 runs while Gautam Gambhir made a useful 97-run contribution to the team's run chase.

Sri Lankan vice captain Mahela Jayawardhene hit an unbeaten 107 runs and was well supported by Sangakkara, who scored 48.


Image: Captain Kumar Sangakkara arrives at Independence Square in Colombo
Photographs: Reuters
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'Won't play next World Cup'

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Dejected after Sri Lanka's second successive loss in the World Cup finals and prone to injuries, pacer Lasith Malinga announced that he will not be around to play the next edition of the mega-event.

"I hope to be of service to my team as long as I can, but I won't be able to play in the next World Cup in 2015. I have been carrying injuries for the past few weeks and with little rest," the 27-year-old told a local TV channel here.

The bowler with a sling-arm action was laid low by a right knee injury in 2008 and 2009 but did not say what might be troubling him right now.

"I ask the youngsters to play well in the next World Cup," he said.

Malinga and the rest of the Sri Lankan team touched down in the country after losing the final by six wickets against India.


Image: Lasith Malinga
Photographs: Getty Images
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'I did what the team expected me to do'

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Malinga did well for himself when he grabbed the wickets of Indian openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag but didn't get the support from other bowlers as the hosts romped home easily.

"I did what the team expected me to do," the bowler, who has taken 127 wickets in 84 one-dayers, said.

"I couldn't bowl yorkers properly because the ball was too wet. It was difficult to swing the ball. I tried hard. I regret I couldn't take more wickets," he added.


Image: Lasith Malinga

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