By Ranjika Perera
At the Sri Lanka versus Australia pre-series media briefing held yesterday (6) at Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo, Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Mohan de Silva revealed the economic significance of staging the series at present when the country is reeling under the worst economic crisis in its post independence era.
The Twenty20 International (T20I) leg, played for the Daraz Cup, of this over-month-long series will kick off today at 7 p.m. under lights at the R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.
Is SLC wasting the country’s precious dollars by playing cricket now, that too under lights, when there are continuous islandwide power cuts?
All such allegations and rumours were put to rest by de Silva who, responding to The Morning Sports at yesterday’s media briefing, said the country will earn as much as $ 2.5 million (approximately Rs. 904 million) from holding the series, and the series’ ticket sales money will be donated to the Government, as well.
“This tournament is very important for the country, given the current crisis that we are all facing. We are expecting to bring in $ 2.5 million by hosting this series alone. On top of it, we will be donating the full revenue generated by the ticket sales to the Government so that they can use it to help people during this tough time,” explained de Silva.
The mighty Aussies are back here after four years. Sri Lanka have fond memories when they famously whitewashed Australia 3-0 in the Test series when they were last here, in 2016.
Before the teams move into the red-ball series this time, the Lions will be locking horns with the visitors in the shortest formats from today where fortunes had not favoured the islanders.
Sri Lanka were thrashed 4-1 in the last bilateral T20I series against Australia, played in Australia.
But, like Skipper Dasun Shanaka said in the media briefing yesterday, “playing in Australia was always tough for us. But this time, we are playing in our home conditions”.
“When we were in Australia last time, we could have won more matches if not for some of the key players getting either injured or contracting Covid-19.
“However, this time I’m confident that we can win the series,” skipper Shanaka stressed.
Clearing the fence
Skipper Shanaka, responding to The Morning Sports, spoke about the possibility of Sri Lanka batting line-up matching the power of the mighty Aussie batting department.
“We have enough players who can clear the boundary. But our fans have not seen enough of them. These players will only be exposed in the IPL (Indian Premier League) or LPL (Lanka Premier League). Club matches don’t get them the same exposure.
The likes of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka, and Dhanushka Gunathilaka are a few players who can hit the big shots.”
Colombo, Kandy, Galle
The first and second matches of the T20I series will be played in Colombo, today and tomorrow (8), before the teams move to the hill capital.
Pallekele in Kandy will host the third and final T20I on Saturday (11) as well as the first two One-Day International (ODI) matches of the five-match ODI series, on Tuesday (14) and Thursday (16).
Watching cricket after long
Then the teams will return to R. Premadasa for the last three ODIs, to be played on 19, 21, and 24 June. Then the two-match Test series will be played in Galle between 29 June and 12 July.
All matches are expected to have full capacity as the cricket-loving public get the opportunity to watch top-class live cricket action after over two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Pakistan here next month
SLC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashley de Silva, at the media briefing, said that the Pakistan men’s cricket team’s tour of Sri Lanka will commence mid-July.
In the meantime, the SLC is still hopeful and confident that they can hold the Asia Cup this year as per schedule, during August and September.
Such international cricket action is expected to improve the spirit of the country during the current tough economic and social situation while also bringing in much-needed foreign revenue.