Posts Tagged ‘Lasith Malinga’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

There are few instances that beat the experience of waking up to the sight and sound of waves splashing against rocks along the coastline. What didn’t help was the showers that followed, adding fuel to our fears of rain playing spoilsport this tournament.

Nevertheless, the appeal to walk along the beach while it rained was tempting enough to get us ready within ten minutes, and park aside thoughts of rain persisting. The present was too valuable to let go of.

We checked back to the hotel café after witnessing sunshine (much to our relief) to order coffee and tea. Unfortunately, for Goutham and Suneeth, the coffee turned out to be an indigenous version of Ragi-Malt! So much for rounding of a fine morning!

Chamara’s Lasith Verdict

We stopped by Pizza Hut for brunch (thanks to a delay – yes another one – in the taxi arriving at our resort) and realized that we were supposed to head to Premadasa and not P Sara stadium, as we’d most certainly assumed, for the warm-up game between India and Pakistan.

The taxi driver, Chamara, told us that he was another Sangakkara fan who rated Nuwan Kulasekara better than Lasith Malinga, calling the latter an actor whose only concerns were centric around colouring his hair. It was an interesting comment given the cricket fan’s perception of Malinga in Sri Lanka – you could’ve got away if you’d thought he enjoyed a Warne-like image among the public.

Rohit Sharma’s Visa

We made it to the Premadasa by the second over of the Indian innings. Gambhir, who we’d assumed wouldn’t play after reading the reports that suggested he was injured, didn’t last for too long – Umar Gul the predator who disturbed his furniture. Sehwag, with his idiosyncratic ‘just-another-game-in-the-park’ approach was victim to a brilliant catch taken by Shahid Afridi off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.

The entry of Rohit Sharma prompted Triyambak to scream “Who gave this fellow his visa to enter Sri Lanka?!”, something that got most of us in to chuckles. The scorecard at the end of the innings would suggest otherwise, but certainly Rohit’s tryst in the international circuit, highlighted through frequently packed zip-code resembling scores with the odd show of class, would’ve irked other cricketers who’ve been shown the door after a single failure.

The picturesque R Premadasa stadium.

Kohli’s purple patch doesn’t seem to show signs of crashing in to a dead end, and along with Hashim Amla, he’s been having a remarkable set of two years in the International Circuit, notwithstanding the formats.

Unfortunately for us, the Indians lost their way during the second half of Pakistan’s innings and made heroes out of Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik – batsmen whom international bowlers, in general, would’ve fancied for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Cricket Shop

Goutham had got in touch with a few Gray Nicolls cricket gear dealers prior to the trip to check if he could procure gear in Sri Lanka. And a box of Kookaburra cricket balls to take back home so that the CECC boys could get accustomed to bowling/facing the Kookaburra in line with their preparations to tour Sri Lanka later this year.

We zeroed down on a pretty popular shop (through internet ratings) called The Cricket Shop, located at Urban Colombo. We chanced taking a couple of tuk-tuks – envisaging options of a cheaper ride, as compared to a taxi from the Premadasa.

The route to The Cricket Shop seemed a detour, given that the drivers had little idea of the location we were talking about. Suneeth’s concerns over the rate the driver would charge us fell to deaf ears – both parties being unable to understand what the other was saying. The only word the driver seemed to know was “No Problem.” To add to that, the other tuk-tuk had taken a different route, and Suneeth seemed certain that this was a game to rob a few foreigners off their cash.

Suneeth was in half a mind to get down and call a cab, but we figured any adventure (or mis-adventure) was an experience worth shouldering. Fortunately, we made it there eventually and ended up paying 600 Sri Lankan Rupees for the ride.

In discussion with Rila Mohamed, Director – Administration, The Cricket Shop, Colombo.

The Cricket Shop, at St Anthony’s Mawatha (Mawatha means ‘Road’ in Sinhalese) seemed the one-stop-solution for cricketers, ranging from amateur to pros, for procuring gears. The very purpose of our visit there, as mentioned earlier, was to check out Gray Nicolls gear. The cheapest Gray Nicolls willow was priced at around 45000 Sri Lankan Rupees, with a top end willow costing close to 70000 LKR.

The shop had an impressive range of display spanning Kookaburra, Stanford (SF), Puma, CA, Gunn & Moore, and SS – a fast moving brand since Sangakkara and a few other Sri Lankan crickets started endorsing it.  The shop Proprietor and Director, Rila Mohamed, was a very friendly man who took time off to explain in detail how he imports bats from India and why SS has become the brand being sought after by youngsters.

He boasts of photos and autographs from some of the best players from around the world, while mentioning that since most of the players are sponsored by manufacturers themselves, they stop by in case of an urgent need to procure a quality willow. Trust, he says is the factor that brings most cricketers back to The Cricket Shop.

Our hopes of buying a box of Kookaburra cricket balls went for a toss when we discovered that a single piece cost close to 14000 LKR. Maybe it’s time we believe in our players and understand that they, after all, can spontaneously adjust to the demands of the Kookaburra cherry when we get here.


Goutham Chakravarthi

17th September 2012

Colombo

Nearly four years have passed since I last visited this glittering island. The lack of multiple security checks at military checkpoints, a facet that seemed a norm back then, immediately stands out. One thing that hasn’t change is the warmth of the locals and the smiles on their faces.

Photo

A cyclist rides past a cut out of Sri Lankan players in the capital Colombo. © AFP

A cyclist rides past a cut out of Sri Lankan players in the capital Colombo. © AFPFrom the airport to the beachside restaurants in the south of Sri Lanka, it’s all about the ICC World Twenty20. Seaside resorts are abuzz with cricket fever, and even the cab drivers tell me they are keeping an eye on the weather forecast, praying for the rain gods to show mercy for a month.

“I want West Indies to win and I believe they have a good chance,” Abhishek Bharathkumar, an Indian national and a former age-group captain for Tamil Nadu, who is here in Sri Lanka on vacation with his family, said.

In addition to home favourites Sri Lanka, India and West Indies are also seen as favourites by the locals to win the trophy while Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Shahid Afridi and Lasith Malinga appear to be the fans’ picks for the stars of the tournament.

Sangakkara is extremely popular amongst the locals here, understandably so.

“Kohli is my favourite player from outside of Sri Lanka. But Sangakkara is my favourite though and his three awards only prove that he is among the best in the world,” says Haroon, a shopkeeper at the airport.

Teams, stats, clubs, T20 leagues are all part of routine conversations with cab drivers and at family dinners.

The locals are also excited by the unearthing of unconventional talents Dilshan Munaweera and Akila Dananjaya, and the expectations for them to deliver are high. Sri Lankans are extremely confident the two players discovered at the SLPL have what it takes to succeed; many of them want both players to be included in the playing XI instead of warming the benches at this year’s T20 World Cup. With Sri Lanka known to offer unorthodox talent, the world will wait with equal interest to see if Dananjaya and Munaweera can use this platform to launch their careers similar to how Angelo Mathews did during the 2009 edition of the tournament in England.

The wickets here seem to be no longer inclined to help slow bowlers or batsmen who thrive on slow, low tracks. Well rounded attacks like Pakistan’s are expected to succeed and progress beyond the Super Eight stages.

“Wickets these days offer some nip to even medium pacers. I think Thisara Perera will be the player of the tournament if we go on to win the cup,” says Cathy, who is a waitress at the wonderful beachside restaurant Loon Tao in Mount Lavinia. She believes teams with allrounders who can bowl medium pace are at an advantage.

A large contingent of tourists meanwhile are keen on catching the action at the India-Pakistan warm-up game on Monday. However, the overselling of World Cup tickets still lingers as a prime concern amongst many of them.A large contingent of tourists meanwhile are keen on catching the action at the India-Pakistan warm-up game on Monday. However, the overselling of World Cup tickets still lingers as a prime concern amongst many of them.

“Ticketmaster, who are handling the ticket sales for the ICC, found that in the first few days of sales certain ticket outlets had access to the ‘blocked’ ticket database, and some of those tickets were sold to the public,” cheif executive of the Sri Lankan cricket board Ajit Jayasekara said, explaining the issue to Island Cricketrecently.

“When this computer glitch was noticed, they took remedial steps and offered alternative seating to those few people who had bought tickets from that database. The actual number is minimal and did not have an effect on the overall ticket sales.”

Even with several warm-up matches out of the way, It is hard to pick a favourite to win the tournament. The wickets will certainly have a significant say in outcome of the series, and should the wickets have nip and pace, it will be a very open tournament. Three sub-continental teams made it to the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup played in the sub-continent last year, and it is hard to see others challenge them should the wickets turn out to be slow turners.

Pakistan possess an impressive bowling attack, however, the chasm between sides shrinks to a blur in this format. Teams like Bangladesh can pose a formidable threat; both Pakistan and New Zealand will be wary of them, as they are in the same group.

The mood is festive. The most open WT20 tournament is upon us. Sri Lanka is the place to be right now.

This article was written for Island Cricket and first published there.