Sri Lanka given warm welcome on return

The beaten Sri Lankan squad received a warm welcome on their return to Colombo on Sunday despite losing to neighbours India in the World Cup final the previous day.

Blessings were showered on Kumar Sangakkara's men in a religious ceremony after a red carpet welcome at Bandaranaike airport.

The cricketers, cheered by fans on the roadside, left in a motorcade for the city's Independence Square where they were welcomed with traditional dance and more flag-waving supporters.

Captain Sangakkara said he was proud of his team but was disappointed after returning empty-handed from two consecutive World Cup finals, Sri Lanka having also lost to Australia at the crunch four years ago.

"I regret that we could not bring the cup home," Sangakkara said in an address to the fans.

"We made a few mistakes in the final but I thought it is the only match that we were found wanting.

"We played as a team, we came into the final as a team and we lost the final as a team but I must say I am proud of the way our players played, their enthusiasm their skill."

Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in tests and ODIs, retired from international cricket after Saturday's match and could not hide his frustration.

"(It was) a little bit disappointing because my main aim was to win the World Cup but unfortunately we couldn't do. India was a better side on the day," Muralitharan said.

"... we couldn't crack their side especially because in the middle part, spinners didn't take enough wickets. If I or Suraj (Randiv) took a few wickets then the story would have been different."

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