Lankan media gives mixed reaction to WC loss to India

Colombo: Sri Lankan media on Sunday gave mixed reaction to the country`s defeat at the hands of India in the cricket World Cup final, with one newspaper scathing in its criticism of the team`s selectors while another said Indians deserved the coveted trophy.

"Dhoni heroics make India world champs", read the headline of the state-owned `Sunday Observer` newspaper.

Commenting on "selection blunders", it asked "who picked the final XI?"

"It shocked everyone when Suraj Randiv was included at the expense of Ajantha Mendis," the paper said.

It was wrong to have played a half-fit Muralitharan, however much a great bowler he was, the paper said.

"Winning the mega final was much more important than giving a farewell tribute to even a great cricketer of Muralitaharan`s magnitude," it said.

Commenting on the team`s six-wicket loss to the Dhoni brigade at Mumbai`s Wankhede stadium last night, the independent `Sunday Times` newspaper said in its editorial that "crestfallen and sorely disappointed, most Sri Lankans would wake up today trying to reconcile with the fact that the national team emerged second best."

While opining that Sri Lanka had an easier passage to the finals than India, it said "India are the deserved winners, to them go the fruits of victory and all the accolades with it".

There was no disgrace in the defeat. "They lost last night to the top ranked cricketing nation before a hugely partisan and frenzied crowd, and away from home, and there is no dishonour in losing," the paper said.

However, it called for a probe of the defeat. "The time is now opportune to venture into an assessment of sports administration in Sri Lanka."

It argued that "cricket has been run by successive interim committees, most reeking with corruption, nepotism and political interference and mismanagement".

The `Sunday Observer` said the cup was so much near yet so far for Sri Lanka which emerged runner-up for the second time in a row.

Though it described Sri Lanka`s 274 for 6 in 50 overs as a challenging total and hailed Vice Captain Mahela Jayawardene for his blistering century, the paper said Gautam Gambhir`s brave 97 runs resurrected the Indian innings following which it was too late for Sri Lanka to bounce back.

Most papers had page one pictures of Jayawardene who made a century, the only redeeming feature for the Sri Lankans in the cup final.

`Lakbima News` carried on the front page the picture of Thilakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga celebrating the dismissal of Virender Sehwag, captioned `Done Half the Job`.

Its main sports page caption was `Cricket`s Holy Grail with India for the Second Time`, while the `Sunday Times` headline was `India Wins World Cup for Second Time`.

`India World Champs, SL Loses World Cup Final despite Mahela 100`, read the headline of the `Sunday Island`, while `The Nation on Sunday` wrote `Lost but not Shamed`.