Indian team comes to rescue cash-starved SLC

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Colombo, Jun 30 (UNI) India's tour of Sri Lanka next month will not only bring cheers to cricket fans as the two Asian giants take on each other, but the three Test and a five-match One-day series has also helped the cash-starved local cricket board wipe out its debts.

The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) media manager Shane Fernando yesterday said, ''We paid off our 600 million rupee (six-million dollar) bank overdraft after getting an advance payment from television rights sold for the Indian tour.'' However, Fernando did not reveal the details, but according to local media the Dubai-based Ten Sports, which holds the television rights for the tour, has already paid 50 per cent of the 15.2 million dollars agreed for the tour.

India will play three Tests and five One-day Internationals during the six-week visit, with the first Test starting on July 23.

India has a vast cricket-crazy television audiences and is the commercial superpower of the sport contributing almost 70 per cent of the game's worldwide revenues.

''India's biggest passion is cricket. It's an advertiser's dream market,'' said Jude de Valliere of the Colombo-based Right Angle Sports Marketing.

''Any brand that associates itself with cricket is assured of a good return. Less affluent countries like Sri Lanka are not ashamed to cash in on India's financial muscle,'' he said.

Earlier, when Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996, the board was never short of sponsors in recent years the income has been running dry.

Sale of television rights to home internationals is how a major portion of money is earned by Sri Lanka Cricket these days.

The SLC lost 11 million dollars when South Africa pulled out of a triangular one-day series in August 2006 after a bomb blast near the team hotel here.

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