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Cricket fever reaches its zenith in SL

COLOMBO, April 1: An unprecedented wave of cricket fever has gripped the entire Sri Lanka in anticipation of the World Cup final with India scheduled to be played on Saturday.

Newspapers have brought out special editions while television talk shows have sparked a nationwide debate on the outcome of the all-Asian final.

Former cricketers appearing as analyst and anchors are recalling the feats of the national side in the 1996 edition of the World Cup at Lahore when the team, led by Arjuna Ranatunga, secured a historic victory over the formidable Aussies.

Also recalled is the Sri Lanka’s marvellous run in the 2007 mega event when, against all odds, Mahela Jayawardene’s men made it to the finals for a second time against Australia in the Caribbeans.

As the cricket fever is building up throughout the country, its effect is being felt in every walk of life. As things appear, everything in the country may come to a grinding halt on Saturday.

Special prayers were offered at different places of worship on Friday for the island’s victory in the final.

Ahead of the World Cup final President Mahinda Rajapaksa will visit the temple of Lord Venkateswara in the town of Tirupati in southern part of the country to offer special prayers for success of Sri Lankan team.

Elaborate arrangements have been made by hotels, community centres sports bodies and diplomatic missions of cricket playing nations to provide screening the live telecast of the match. There are also reports that the advertising industry has also increased the rates of newspaper advertising for special cricket editions and television spots for Saturday’s transmission.

Country’s national airline is reported to be struggling to cope with the heavy booking of passengers who are travelling to Mumbai.