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September 28, 2002
1157 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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Aravinda De Silva's ready to retire

Brian Murgatroyd

Aravinda de Silva propelled Sri Lanka into the final of the Champions Trophy on Friday, then said he was ready to retire from international cricket after Sunday's showdown with India.

Man of the match De Silva, Sri Lanka's leading run-scorer in Test and one-day international history, took one for 16 with his guileful off-spin as the hosts hammered Australia by seven wickets.

The 36-year-old said he would only play in the forthcoming tours of South Africa, Australia and in next year's World Cup if Sri Lanka's selectors definitely wanted him.

"I'll definitely be finishing after the World Cup but I'll sit down with the selectors and decide if the team needs me after this series," he told reporters.

"I've already sounded them out and they wanted me to finish this game and then have a chat afterwards. I'll be chatting with them after this tournament.

"There are quite a few good youngsters in Sri Lanka and I feel when the time is right you should go. I'd like to leave on a high note whenever possible," he said.

De Silva's disclosure comes just six months after he returned to the side for the tour of England after a year on the sidelines.

He is the longest-serving current international player having made his debut against England in 1984, but after his return in May he quickly re-established himself as a pivotal member of the Test and one-day side, a fact underlined by his performance against Australia.

It means the selectors will almost certainly try and persuade him to stay for Sri Lanka's busy upcoming programme, culminating with the World Cup in southern Africa in February 2003.

De Silva revealed what had driven him to come back in the first place after an approach by the selectors two months before the England tour began.

"The critics really motivated me," he said. "Certain people were after me so I thought ok.


"I got the opportunity when the selectors wanted me, to get fit for the England tour, and I took that as a challenge and really worked hard. Now I just want to enjoy my cricket until I finish."

Whatever de Silva and the selectors decide, he confirmed this tournament would be his finale in front of the home fans - and that made his success all the sweeter.

"I'm quite glad I was able to do that, especially knowing it was probably the last time I play at home and definitely the last series I'll be playing in Sri Lanka," he said.

"Today was a challenge, an important semi-final and I like to take responsibility on my shoulders in a special game."

De Silva was optimistic he could have a fairytale end to his international career in Sri Lanka with victory against India in Sunday's final.

"We've got to go there and do our best, not put additional pressure on ourselves," he said.

"We're playing India at home, they're a good side but I think Sri Lanka are a better side.

"We've got to believe in ourselves and perform and probably we are the favourites."

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