Sri Lanka welcome back less than rousing

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s World Cup defeat to India failed to rouse fans at home as only a handful of loyalists responded to repeated appeals over state television to welcome the team on its return.

Sri Lankan authorities told local reporters on Friday that they will bring the team in an open motorcade from the Bandaranaike International airport irrespective of the final result, but plans were hurriedly changed.

The open motorcade turned out to be a luxury tourist coach with dark tinted glasses.

The 1996 champion team took more than five hours to reach the city from the airport. The team had a quick and easy ride to the city where a modest crowd greeted them after the red carpet was laid at the airport.

Four elephants and traditional devil dancers escorted the team to Colombo`s Independence Square where a few thousand fans showed up.

Only a handful of politicians were present at the airport and the independence square.

Among them was Prasanna Ranatunga, the chief minister of the western province and the brother of the 1996 captain Arjuna Ranatunga. He stressed the need to support cricketers both in victory and defeat.

Sri Lanka lost the final last night at Mumbai`s Wankhede Stadium after India reached 277 for four in 48.2 overs, surpassing Sri Lanka`s 275 runs with 10 balls left.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni played a captain`s knock of 91 runs while Gautam Gambhir made a useful 97-run contribution to the team`s run chase.

Sri Lankan vice captain Mahela Jayawardhene hit an unbeaten 107 runs and was well supported by Sangakkara, who scored 48.