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Hambantota back on SLC's radar

High operational costs haven't helped sustain hosting of matches at the far-flung venue Getty Images

Sooriyawewa is set to host its first ODI in two years, when Zimbabwe tour Sri Lanka in June and July. But before the ground is fit for international cricket again, it will need to undergo renovations, SLC has said.

Though the stadium is less than seven years old, Sooriyawewa is the most far-flung of Sri Lanka's grounds - situated 30 kilometres from Hambantota, which in any case is little more than a small fishing town. As such the board reported that the stadium had "fallen into a state of disrepair".

"The remoteness of [Hambantota stadium] has resulted in teams declining the use of the stadium regularly," an SLC release said. "It currently receives no income whilst costing SLC approximately LKR 18 Million (approx. USD $121,000) annually for basic maintenance and utilities."

In addition to touching up the ground to make it fit for international cricket, the board also hopes to draw school and domestic cricket there, by building a 40-bed dormitory at the venue, near which little accommodation presently exists.

"The re-purposing of the venue is hoped to bring in an annual income that would enable the stadium to function independently without cost to SLC."

Although floodlights are available at Sooriyawewa, the three Zimbabwe ODIs set to be played there will be day matches, SLC said, in an effort to save roughly LKR 10 million (approx. USD $67,000) in electricity and operational costs.

The games are scheduled for July 6, 8 and 10, and will follow two other ODIs, making this a five-match series.