By Easwaran Rutnam
Former Sri Lankan master blaster Aravinda De Silva slammed critics of the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL) Twenty20 cricket tournament, insisting that the event had met its expectations.
Speaking at an event at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Thursday night involving Mahindra Group, the title sponsors of SLPL, De Silva said that the main focus of the SLPL was to nurture young Sri Lankan cricketers.
De Silva, who is a mentor for the Uva Next team, said that he was keen to see a tournament like the SLPL being held in Sri Lanka and his dream came true when the cricket board managed to organize the event.
“Leave aside political issues. I always wanted the youth of this country to benefit from the game. SLPL will help the youth of Sri Lanka,” De Silva said.
Dilshan Munaweera and Akila Dhanajaya, two young players who performed well in the Sri Lanka Premier League, were picked to play for Sri Lanka in the Twenty20 World Cup.
SLPL was criticized even before the tournament got off the ground and with the final scheduled to take place today (Friday) critics have questioned if the tournament had met its goals.
One of the major concerns was the inability of the SLPL to draw crowds similar to that seen in the more popular Indian Premier League.
However De Silva said that supporters were brought from India for some teams and he revealed that for Uva Next some 150 Indian fans had flown down.
De Silva was instrumental in securing the support of the Mahindra Group, India’s India’s leading SUV manufacturer, to come in as the title sponsor of the SLPL.
S.P. Shukla, President- Group Strategy and Chief Brand Officer of the Mahindra Group said his company was happy to have been involved with the SLPL.
The company is already involved with several other sports including motor racing and football.