ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

If Lanka enters final, President will be there

By Nalaka Nonis

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to travel to Kensington Oval in Barbados in the event of Sri Lanka cricket team entering the finals in the ongoing cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.

The President yesterday wrapped up a four-day visit to Italy and was due in Colombo and will be travelling to the Caribbean for the finals depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s semi final between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sports and Public Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge has already left for the Caribbean Islands to witness the semi finals and will be staying on there if the Sri Lankan team enters the finals.

President Rajapaksa earlier shot down an attempt by some 60 politicians and sports authorities to go to the Caribbean on state expense to watch the Sri Lankan cricket team playing.

He had directed that even Minister Gamini Lokuge who was among those who sought to travel to the Caribbean using government expenses could do so if Sri Lanka booked a place in the semi finals.

Non cabinet Sports Minister Bandula Basnayake was permitted to go to witness Sri Lanka playing in the Super 8 stage and he returned to Sri Lanka recently.

Four officials representing the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket have also taken wing to the Caribbean. Tour operators have arranged a selection of packages ranging from Rs. 600,000 to Rs. one million for Sri Lankans to go to the Caribbean to watch their home team competing at the World Cup.

One such all inclusive package offered, amounts to Rs. 695,000 for semi finals and finals. In addition people have also booked tickets individually.

A spokesman for one of the tour operators in Colombo said there was a “good response” from people for the offers they made to witness cricket’s highest competition.Many Sri Lankans living in the United States and Britain are flying to the Caribbean to watch Sri Lanka’s semi final on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka has registered its protest at the international level after a person carrying an LTTE flag stormed into Grenada National Stadium during Sri Lanka’s match against Australia on April 16.

A spokesman for the Sports Ministry said that both the Sports Ministry and Sri Lanka Cricket have protested to ICC and Cricket World Cup organisers over the incident.

Betting boom

By Asif Fuard

With the World Cup reaching its high-pitched climax this week, betting centres in Colombo and the outstations are reporting a gambling boom with thousands patronizing both legal and illegal betting centres.

The bets range from Rs. 10 to Rs. 250,000 and not surprisingly, most Sri Lankans are placing their bets on their home team.

Sporting Star and Sporting Times gambling centres in Maradana, Borella, Kollupitiya and Kompannaveediya have been showing World Cup matches on wide-screen television sets which they specifically got down for the World Cup to attract more punters.

Sporting Star dealer Saman Prasanna said that while World Cup cricket had become more popular than horse racing, the legalized betting centres were facing a challenge from illegal centres which were drawing crowds by offering better odds.

Sporting Times dealer Ranga Perera said they were expecting a boom in betting over the next few days for the semi final on Tuesday and most people so far had placed their bets on Sri Lanka.

One punter, S. Kumara, said he was placing a bet of Rs. 25,000 on a Sri Lankan victory at the World Cup and a bet of Rs. 10,000 on Sanath Jayasuriya becoming the man of the series.

While Colombo is the hub of the new trend in cricket betting, it has also spread to the suburbs and other areas like Ratnapura, Galle and Kandy.

In Ratnapura and Balangoda many gem merchants are said to have placed bets amounting to millions of rupees.

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.