Streets in Sri Lanka were lit up by firecrackers and front pages celebrated victory after the national cricket team’s stunning World Cup win over England.
Residents in the capital Colombo and across the nation celebrated wildly as low-ranking Sri Lanka unexpectedly beat England on their home soil by 20 runs to open up the race for a semi-final spot.
“Battered and bruised Lions decimate empire,” the local Daily Mirror said while the Island daily front-page the match report with a bold banner headline: “SRI LANKA BEAT ENGLAND.”
President Maithripala Sirisena welcomed the “competitive spirit” of the national team while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was among the first to congratulate the team.
Commentating at the time, former captain Kumar Sangakkara said, “What a day it has been for cricket, What a day it has been for Sri Lankan cricket.”
In his column, Mahela Jayawardene wrote, “I hope this game will give Sri Lanka a lot of confidence in this World Cup. They have beaten one of the best teams in the world, and they need to believe in themselves.
At times it feels like they have played with a little bit of fear and have not been able to really express themselves. This win should change that.”
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne praised Lasith Malinga and fellow veteran Angelo Mathews – whose painstaking 85 not out helped them recover from a collapse to three for two.
Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga said earlier in the week that Karunaratne and his team had improved during the current tournament.
“When we look at the team, they have improved a lot compared to where they were before the tournament. Our weakness is the team management,” Ranatunga had said on Monday.
Last week, the team faced censure after failing to fulfil their media duties following the damaging defeat against Australia.
Karunaratne’s side were beaten by 87 runs at the Oval, leaving their hopes of progressing to the semi-finals hanging by a slender thread.
Sri Lanka’s refusal to meet the media came days after their team manager Asantha de Mel slammed the ICC’s treatment of the squad.
De Mel blasted the quality of pitches, practice facilities, transport and accommodation at the World Cup.
“This is a World Cup where the top 10 countries are taking part and I feel that all the participants should be treated equally,” de Mel was quoted as saying by Sri Lankan newspaper Daily News.
De Mel also criticised Sri Lanka’s team bus – saying it was more cramped than the double-decker vehicles provided to other teams – blasted the net facilities at Cardiff as “unsatisfactory” and complained the squad’s hotel in Bristol lacked a swimming pool.
Sri Lanka – who have now beaten England in four successive World Cups – next play South Africa in Durham a week on Friday and Malinga said: “We want to carry on the momentum and confidence into the other matches.”
(With AFP inputs)
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