Dreams Turn To Deadly Drama

 

(© Ranjan Mellawa)

After many hiccups, my friend Jagath and I joined the line to enter the stadium in Mohali. It was an opportunity of a lifetime; to watch the live action of India–Pakistan semi-final at the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

At the first security frisk, Jagath’s eyes widened when the police officer threw away his 4-inch plastic comb. Though my green T-shirt with the Australian cricket crest had a somewhat “neutral” appearance, I smelled trouble from the word go.

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“We are the Champions” … pause …, “Again!”

Sri Lanka players celebrate as they pose with the ICC World Twenty20 trophy after winning the final match against India at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 6 April 6, 2014.

Nine o’clock, the morning of 6 April 2014, still in bed and staring at the ceiling. Emotions ran high.

“A penny for your thoughts,” said Jagath.

“After four ‘finals’ losses in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012, the benefit of the law of averages is long overdue,” I replied.

“They should give a fitting farewell to the twin towers, Mahela and Sanga.” This from Jagath.

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The Player of 1996 Cricket World Cup: Who Deserved It Most – Sanath or Aravinda?

Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva in full cry at the 1996 Wills World Cup.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva in full cry at the 1996 Wills World Cup.

Eighteenth March 1996.

The return flight finally took off from Lahore at around 6.00 am. An event that had to wait for twenty-one years happened 35,000 feet in the air. Two ‘wounded soldiers’ on adjoining beds at St Thomas’ Hospital, laid low by an excessively aggressive ‘Mr Thomson’ in the first World Cup in 1975 met in celebration: Duleep Mendis, having presided over the vanquishing of the Australian side as the manager of the Sri Lankan team; Capt. Sunil Wettimuny now flying that victorious team home. Not to be outdone, the same fate decreed that the master-of-ceremonies at the awards ceremony that followed the final, was none other than Ian Chappell. Destiny really did have some tricks up her sleeve!

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Cricket World Cup 2019: The Front-runners

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga proudly holds aloft the 1996 Wills World Cup

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga proudly holds aloft the 1996 Wills World Cup, which he received from the then Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, having beaten Australia in the final on 17 March 1996 at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan. Master of Ceremonies Ian Chappell is at the extreme left. (Photo by Prasanna Hennayake).

England will host the 12th edition of the Cricket World Cup from 30 May to 14 July, this year. Ten nations would compete in the round-robin format, with the top four teams advancing to knock out stage, semi-finals and final.

At the time of writing, nearly all teams seem to have issues to contend with; that may or may not be overcome prior to the tournament. Hence, prediction of outcomes seven weeks before a high-pressure tournament is a challenge in itself.

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Records by Sri Lankans at Cricket World Cups

Kumar Sangakkara batting against Chris Woakes (England) in Wellington, New Zealand, during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup (© Ranjan Mellawa)

Kumar Sangakkara batting against Chris Woakes (England) in Wellington, New Zealand, during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup (© Ranjan Mellawa).


Ranjan Mellawa hopes Sri Lanka will be inspired by their past performances in world tournaments and achieve something special at the next World Cup.

 

 

As the Cricket World Cup draws nearer, let’s revisit some record-breaking Sri Lankan individual and team performances in previous tournaments.

Sri Lanka was the first Associate team to defeat a Full Member at the World Cup when they beat India by 47 runs in 1979.

When Sri Lanka confronted New Zealand in 1983, an aggregate 29 maiden overs were bowled by both sides, the most in a single World Cup match. In the quiet that ensued, Sri Lanka bowlers delivered 17 of those and helped their team win the 60-over match by 3 wickets, with 43 balls to spare, in a ‘battle of the maidens’ as it were!

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Save the Blushes, Please

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan teams walking into the ground for the national anthems prior to their match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup on 22 February 2015 at the picturesque University Oval, Dunedin, New Zealand. (© Ranjan Mellawa)


Ranjan Mellawa thinks it’s not all doom and gloom for Sri Lanka, and they can still make a good fist of the next World Cup.

 

 

In an all-time low, Sri Lanka capitulated to Afghanistan by 91 runs in the Asia Cup 2018. Angelo Mathews, already tipped to lead in the forthcoming World Cup, was axed from both captaincy and the one-day squad.

Previously, Sri Lanka had played Afghanistan in the 2015 World Cup. Lethargic fielding by the Sri Lankans helped Afghanistan post 232 runs.

The first ball of the Sri Lanka innings, trapped Thirimanna lbw. Next over, Dilshan edged a back-of-a-length delivery and was caught behind for no score. Sri Lanka were tottering at 2 for 2 after 1.2 overs. It was only the second time in ODIs that both openers were dismissed for first-ball ducks.

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So Near…

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan teams walking into the ground for the national anthems prior to their match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup

Ranjan Mellawa believes that injury prevention and management, along with the quality of bench strength would be critical success factors at the next World Cup.

 

 

Mahela Jayawardena’s masterpiece (103*) gave Sri Lanka a commanding total of 274 for 6 in the 2011 World Cup final. Never before had a Jayawardena century led to a losing cause for Sri Lanka.

The 275 target looked imposing for India. No team batting second had scored more than 250 runs under lights at Wankhede Stadium. Sri Lanka’s varied bowling attack seemed geared to defend the highest run chase in a World Cup final.

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Mind Over Matter

Ranjan Mellawa anticipates most teams to be on par at the next World Cup

In the group stage at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka scored an imposing 268 after a magnificent 124 (129 balls) by Marvan Atapattu, solidly supported by Aravinda de Silva’s 73 (78).

Having lost their sixth wicket at 212, South Africa needed 57 off 45. With rain falling steadily, it was all but certain that the method used to decide weather affected matches – Duckworth Lewis, would come into play at any moment. At the end of the 44th over with the score at 216, the South African dressing room relayed a message to Mark Boucher in the middle – a win needed 229 by end of the 45th, assuming no further wickets fell.

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Honoured to be Recognised on Home Turf

Winds Behind The Willows” was shortlisted for an award at the prestigious State Literary Awards 2018, Sri Lanka

The State Literary Awards 2018 was held on 11th September with the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena, to honour those Sri Lankans who enriched literature in all three languages in 2017. First held in 1957, this year marks the 61st anniversary of this prestigious event, a fact not equalled anywhere globally.

Over 2,000 submissions of creative, academic and research work published in 2017, in Sinhala, Tamil and English were vying for recognition.

An interwoven tapestry of cricket fandom, “Winds Behind The Willows” was honoured by being among the three books shortlisted for the award in its designated category.

This year’s awards ceremony was organised by the State Literary Advisory Board, Arts Council of Sri Lanka, Cultural Affairs Department, and Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Ministry.

A Cricket Tragic’s Magnum Opus – An Incidental History of the Sport in Sri Lanka

Winds Behind the Willow review at cricketweb.net

Books about Sri Lankan cricket are rare, and any addition to the small number there are is to be welcomed. It is remarkable, for example, that no proper history of the game has been written for a country where cricket has been played since at least 1805, when a match at a British garrison is recorded as having taken place. Contrast that with New Zealand and South Africa, two countries where the game is not recorded until after that date, but both of which are well served by histories.

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