Sri Lanka miss chance to train at new venues

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Colombo, Feb 7 (AFP) Sri Lanka have missed out on a homeadvantage after being denied a chance to train at two newWorld Cup venues because of construction delays, skipper KumarSangakkara has said.

The Sri Lankans open their campaign against Canada at thenew Mahinda Rajapakse stadium in Hambantota on February 20,but delays in meeting building deadlines meant the venue couldnot be used for training.

Sri Lanka''s hopes of getting a feel of the other newfacility in Pallekele in the central district of Kandy werealso dashed due to similar problems.

Sangakkara said the team had been looking forward toplaying some games at Pallekele and Hambantota a month inadvance and were disappointed by the turn of events.

"We would love to train at all the grounds, but we alsoneed to have the proper facilities to train," Sangakkara toldreporters late Sunday after wrapping up a 2-0 one-day serieswin over the West Indies.

"We need to have side (practice) wickets, gyms, all ofthese things available at the venues, otherwise it isdifficult.

"But things are what they are, so we accepted the factthat we''ll have to go in and play World Cup matches on thosegrounds without knowing the conditions too much."

Pallekele and Hambantota are set to host five World Cupgames while the renovated R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo willhost seven.

Sangakkara said the players were happy with thefacilities in Colombo, where the squad has played a fewdomestic matches in the past few weeks.

"It''s a bit too late now to go and work camps inPallakele or Hambantota. We have only got two weeks and we''vegot to prepare as well as we can in those two weeks with thebest of facilities and those facilities are here in Colombo.

"We are ready to play on the wickets we get and we can''t,no matter how you talk about it, change anything any more.

They are what they are."

Sri Lanka, 1996 winners and losing finalists of the 2007World Cup, are co-hosting the showpiece event with India andBangladesh.

Sangakkara was upbeat about playing most of their matchesin Sri Lanka in front of supportive home crowds.

"The crowd will be there and we''ll be playing at home, soat least we''ve got two factors going for us," he said.

Sri Lanka have been placed in Group A with defendingchampions Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Canadaand Kenya.

The event begins in Dhaka on February 19. (AFP) AH

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