Sri Lanka cricket feels squeeze as sponsors take flight

Audrey Azoulay

January 19, 2009 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's economic slowdown has taken its toll on the island's hugely popular sport of cricket as long-term sponsor disappear, sports minister Gamini Lokuge said on Monday.

During the three-month trial that ends on March 31, Sri Lanka will play two Tests and three one-day internationals in Pakistan and host India and Zimbabwe for one-day series.

One of Sri Lanka's biggest clothing manufacturers, MAS Holdings, also agreed to continue its sponsorship until the end of March in a deal worth almost 300,000 dollars, SLC's head of marketing, Charith Senanayake, said.

The cash-strapped SLC is now eyeing bids from international broadcasters to secure rights for India's hastily-arranged tour of Sri Lanka later this month for five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international.

Bids for the bilateral series, which that runs from January 28 to February 10, closes later on Monday, with TV networks such as Ten Sports, Sony TV, Nimbus and ESPN-Star in the fray.

The tour was finalised to partly fill the gap created by India's cancelled trip to Pakistan in January-February following the Mumbai terror attacks in November.

India last toured Sri Lanka in July-August

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