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SLC eyeing India tour for bailout

cricket Updated: Jan 20, 2009 12:47 IST

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The cash-strapped Sri Lanka Cricket is eyeing bids from international broadcasters to secure rights for India's hastily arranged tour of the island nation later this month for five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international.

Bids for the series, which runs from January 28 to February 10, closes later on Monday, with networks such as Ten Sports, Sony, Nimbus and ESPN-Star in the fray.

The tour was finalised to partly fill the gap created by India's cancelled trip to Pakistan in January-February following the Mumbai terror attacks in November.

India last toured Sri Lanka in July-August last year, losing the Test series 2-1 before winning the one-dayers 3-2.

Apparently, there is more on the SLC's plate.

The economic slowdown has taken its toll as long-term sponsors are disappearing, sports minister Gamini Lokuge said on Monday.

The team failed to attract backers when sponsorship for the team and players' clothing was put up for bidding this month.

MAS Holdings, one of the country's biggest textile manufacturers, has agreed to continue its sponsorship until the end of March in a deal worth almost $300,000, SLC's head of marketing, Charith Senanayake, said.

"The global economic crunch and the economic slowdown in Sri Lanka has had an impact on companies coming forward to sponsor our national team," Lokuge said.

"It's a shame. We have a full calendar of games this year."

However, Sri Lanka's biggest mobile operator Dialog Telekom signed an $89,000 deal to sponsor the national team on a three-month trial basis until SLC finds a permanent sponsor.

The previous sponsor, Dilmah Tea, spent $2 million during a three-year period.

SLC did not comment on why Dilmah declined to renew the sponsorship. Dilmah officials were not available for comment.

"We will consider extending the sponsorship if the business climate improves and our team performs well in the upcoming tours," said Nushad Perera, chief marketing officer of Dialog.