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Series victory down to witchcraft: Chandimal

Countless cricketers have searched for a magic solution, but Sri Lanka's Test captain believe he's found one

Forget runs and wickets, Sri Lanka's surprise Test series sweep against Pakistan this month was down to witchcraft, captain Dinesh Chandimal has suggested.

Chandimal told reporters on Tuesday he had received a special blessing from a 'meyni', or sorcerer, ahead of the two-match series in the United Arab Emirates.

"I am always ready to accept the blessings of anyone - whether it is a meyni or any clergy," Chandimal told reporters after returning to Colombo.

"You can have talent, but without this blessing you can't move forward."

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His comments came a week after Sri Lanka's sports minister denied ordering the struggling national team to use witchcraft ahead of the Test series.

Dayasiri Jayasekara threatened to sue a sorcerer for claiming that, at his request, she cast a spell over Pakistan to ensure Sri Lanka's victory.

Several Sri Lankan politicians, business leaders and sports stars put their faith in witchcraft or astrology.

Former president Mahinda Rajapakse took the advice of his personal astrologer before calling an election two years ahead of schedule in January 2015, only to lose badly.

Chandimal said the sorcerer he consulted was the mother of a friend, and he was willing to accept her blessings. 

But since the Test victory, Sri Lanka have fared less well.

They lost 5-0 in the subsequent one-day international series against Pakistan and also went down in a three-match Twenty20 series.

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Sri Lankan fans made fun of Chandimal and criticised his sorcerer online, with many calling her a fraud.

"You made predictions, tied talismans, held poojas, but finally we were humiliated," posted one social media user.

Sri Lanka meanwhile are planning to send more teams to Pakistan after playing a T20 match in Lahore for the first time since a gun attack eight years ago, a top official said.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said the national team were impressed with the extraordinary level of security for the match at the Gaddafi stadium on Sunday.

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"They delivered the security they promised and we were very satisfied with all the arrangements," de Silva told reporters in Colombo a day after the team returned home. 

He said the board would send junior sides to Pakistan soon and the senior side would follow as soon as possible.

"Our FTP (Future Tours Program) does not include Pakistan, but we will have one as soon as possible," he said. "We are sending our A team and an Under-19 team to play against Pakistan shortly."

Sunday's T20 was Sri Lanka's first in Pakistan since their team bus was attacked near the same venue in March 2009.

That attack, which left eight people dead and seven Sri Lanka players and their staff injured, forced Pakistan to play all their home matches at neutral venues, mainly in the UAE.

Sri Lanka's T20 skipper Thisara Perera said several team members had raised concerns about safety, but he was able to assure them based on his experience in playing in a three-match World XI series in Lahore last month.

"In my nine years of cricket I have never seen that level of security," Perera said of Sunday's match which Sri Lanka lost by 36 runs. "I think we can play again in Pakistan."

Sports Minister Jayasekara and Sri Lanka board President Thilanga Sumathipala also travelled to Lahore for the final of the three-match T20 series to underline Colombo's confidence in the security arrangements.

The first two matches, which Pakistan won by seven and two wickets respectively, were played in Abu Dhabi before Sri Lanka flew to Lahore in a 24-hour fly-in, fly-out arrangement.