February 22, 2011 / 11:33 AM / 8 years ago

Cricket-Sri Lanka back in tune with fans - on minister's orders

HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka removed a ban on Tuesday on taking musical instruments into the island nation’s World Cup venues, a day ahead of an expected low attendance match between Pakistan and Kenya.

Sri Lankans, especially youths, love to watch cricket accompanied by music from within the ground and the initial ban threatened to take away much needed atmosphere, especially at sparsely attended games.

“The match without bands is like going to a hotel without the most favourite dish,” Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the sports minster, told Reuters.

“I had a discussion with the Inspector General of Police, and we have removed the ban on bands and musical instruments.”

Sri Lanka Cricket has already decided to reduce World Cup tickets prices by more than 50 percent for some matches not featuring the host nation to boost crowd numbers. [ID:SGE71J01D]

Officials expect a near empty arena on Wednesday during Pakistan’s opening World Cup game against Kenya at Hambantota, which saw a near capacity crowd of 35,000 turn up to see the 1996 champions Sri Lanka thrash Canada on Sunday.

Sri Lanka officials on Sunday relaxed another earlier bar on spectators carrying banners and posters in to World Cup-playing venues. [ID:nSGE71J01D]

Sri Lanka, co-host of the World Cup with Bangladesh and India, is hosting 12 matches including the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Jon Bramley; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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