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  Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Sri Lanka abuzz for final

As soon as the Australian innings came to its premature end at the Premadasa Stadium on Friday the parties kicked off in Colombo.

Sri Lanka celebrate
Victory was a formality after Australia's collapse
The Sri Lankan fans knew the chase for the 163 runs needed for a place in the final against India was going to be a formality and the cheering and fireworks began.

It seems everyone likes to beat the Australians at cricket.

The Sri Lankans are no different to the English, the New Zealanders or the Indians and the cheer that greeted the winning runs was quite astonishing.

But when one looks back at what has happened between Australia and Sri Lanka in the past it's easy to see why there was the reaction that there was.

Sri Lanka is a proud nation and fans were upset when Australia refused to play their World Cup matches here in 1996.


Colombo is still abuzz with the semi-final win and that is bound to carry on into the final
Locals will admit that Colombo was not as safe then as it is now, but the decision still hurt.

Add in the war of words between former captain Arjuna Rantatunga and Shane Warne a few years later and the reasons for Friday's joyous scenes become even more self explanatory.

Warne received a particularly hostile welcome from the crowd when he came out to bat.

But he answered the cat calls and jeers with the highest score in the Australian innings.

His bowling was also excellent and, but for dropped catches, he would have had more wickets.

Shane Warne
Warne top-scored despite the boo boys
So now Sri Lanka are building up for the final against India, where if anything the atmosphere will be even more highly-charged.

Colombo is still abuzz with the semi-final win and that is bound to carry on into the final.

If the scenes outside the Premadasa Stadium on Friday are anything to go by it will be absolute bedlam outside the ground as well.

And with all the tickets already sold expect the touts to make an absolute killing.

It has been wonderful to see such enthusiasm for the game here in Sri Lanka.

Back in the UK all sports of course play second fiddle to football but here cricket really is the king.

If Sri Lanka win on Sunday expect a right royal party.

12 leading teams do battle in Sri Lanka

Final

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See also:

26 Sep 02 | ICC Champions Trophy
23 Sep 02 | ICC Champions Trophy
19 Sep 02 | ICC Champions Trophy
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