After our last bungle of bus and train travel, we wisely decided to get tuk tuk all the way to the stadium rather than risk missing the entire event which could happen as we are easily lead astray, often unintentionally.The Mahinda Rajapakse Stadium in Sooriyawewa, about 20 kms outside of Hambantota, 80kms from Tangalle, which is about a 90 minute tuk tuk ride. Pleasant enough on the way there, passing paddy fields with peacocks, banana, coconut papaya plantations along the way. Coming back at midnight was like playing dodge-ems with a blindfold, while flying missiles hoot their way past you at high speed. Atari Asteroids comes to mind – if you’re old enough to remember……..
Our tuk tuk driver had brought along a mate and a quick stop shortly after leaving Tangalle to give Buddha a donation and a quick prayer for the big night ahead and we were off. The SL fans were all dressed up ready for victory. Headed like migrating yellow and blue birds in one direction, blowing hooters and beating drums. Mini Malingas everywhere.
Given Sri Lanka’s history of 30 years of war the security almost outnumbered the fans and the “pat down” going into the stadium was shall we say, “thorough”. Anywhere else and I’d be tempted to inform the military chic that I usually only allow that much contact on date number 3 and preferably a Dhoni or Sangakara look alike. But I think they are not to be messed with……. Although the consequences may have been more entertaining than the brutal slaughter that followed.
Once again, I think a bit of a ceremony before would have gone down well. Nothing like some music, dancing girls and Fireworks to kick off what should be a 3 week celebration. The crowd didn’t seem to mind too much though and quickly got into the swing of things some aided more by the brutal attack of the Lions. (Not like SA though where you can bring your castle to your seat) so getting to the refreshment stand is indeed thirsty work.
There were a handful of other non Lankans in the crowd including some lost Aussie carrying a Kangaroo, (there always is one), but no sign of Bob or any Zim fans.Despite being recently completed and built exclusively for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, the stadium does seem to lack some foresite. No electronic scoreboard, but rather this monstrous concrete structure with a manually operated system that probably employs 20 people on each level to change the scores, with one guy at the bottom with a load hailer and calculator telling them what to do. Job creation I guess, but depending on where you’re sitting at night – you cant read the bloody thing for the glare of the lights off it. Electronic anyone?
Sri Lanka was always going to win this, but I was hoping for a slim fighting chance from the Zimbos, who would have been slightly buoyed by their recent win against SA and Bangladesh in the tri series. Instead they were like lambs in the Lions slaughter house.
I’ll not bore you with a match analysis as I am no expert although I do often feverishly believe that I should be the coach and captain and will no doubt often try to convince many that I actually was part of setting up the rules initially.
BUT, IF Zim had not messed around so much with sloppy fielding then there would have been less pressure on the batsmen coming in and maybe they may have tried to at least play all their overs, have less runs to chase and possibly narrowed the loss to say 30-40 runs. But 87? Eish!
Lets see what the new T20 bowling record holder, Ajantha Mendis, bowling a brilliant 6-8, will do against the ADK attack (Amla, DeV, Kallis) on Saturday, but first Zim must face SA on Thursday.
All round an entertaining evening with new comrades in cricket and a start to what promises to be a good series with the doors to the trophy open wide to several teams at this stage.
Oh – My only real grumble is about the match is that it is hard to believe that in a country like this famed for its spicy, fresh food with flavours to bowl over the grumpiest of Gordon Ramsay, the best they can come up with (probably due to sponsorship rights) is instant noodles, with zero flavour, hotdogs, Lays and heaven forbid, the scourge of any chicken lover – Kentucky Fried Creature of sorts. We’re taking padkos next time! Directly and appropriately translated as Street Food. Way better!
Keep an eye on this space. In the mean time we’ll hunt more Lions, continue our quest for a good rum cocktails and devour many more chillies.
Your daily Trivia…..
Tipped to possibly be the next Murali (big boots to fill!), Ajantha Mendis’ score of 6 for 8 is the best bowling performance in T20 Internationals, surpassing his own 6 for 16 against Australia in 2011. His figures are also the best ever in World T20.