Tele Cricket

February 12, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s second largest mobile phone operator on Thursday agreed a three-year deal worth nearly five million dollars to sponsor the island’s cricket team, Sri Lanka Cricket said.

The Sri Lankan team, led by outgoing captain Mahela Jayawardene, leaves for Pakistan on Saturday for a two-Test series, which begins on February 21. Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel takes over as main sponsor of the national team from April.

The team is currently sponsored by Malaysia’s Dialog Telekom, in a deal worth 89,000 dollars for a three-month period that ends in March.

Sri Lanka’s national team includes Test and one-day cricket’s leading wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan.

Sri Lanka Cricket called for fresh bids for a long-term sponsor in January after the national team failed to attract backers because of the ongoing economic slowdown in the country, Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge said.

Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel had offered the highest bid of 4.85 million dollars, Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement.

“Current sponsors Dialog Telekom and National Development Bank were also among the bidders,” the statement said.

The previous team sponsor, Sri Lanka’s Dilmah Tea, paid