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Sri Lankans splurge on snacks and drinks for all night match viewing

April 28, 2007 (AFP) - Sri Lankans were stocking up on snacks, soft drinks, ice cream and liquor on Saturday to watch their home team battle Australia at the cricket World Cup finals in the Caribbean. Supermarkets, grocery and wine stores were reporting brisk sales as customers stood in lengthy queues.

"It took us nearly an hour to pay for few bottles of soft drinks, ice creams and snacks," said Marisa de Silva.

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"People are just going crazy buying up food to watch the match. A win is worth the long queue."

Cricket is hugely popular in Sri Lanka and is seen as one of the few unifying elements that cut through political and ethnic lines amid escalating fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The nation is set to come to a standstill for Saturday's final in Barbados against Australia, despite the time lag.

The streets will be deserted for the game, which -- if Tuesday's semi-final is anything to go by -- will start in mid-evening Colombo time and last until three or four in the morning.

Sri Lanka's state-run Rupavahini television station said more than 14 million people out of the 19.

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5 million population were expected to watch the live broadcast of the finals.

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