March 5, 2011
Australia cricket showdown a washout
By NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency
This contest between Australia, the defending World Cup champion, and Sri Lanka, a former champion, was expected to whet the appetite of the local fans.
But the 35,000 who crammed into Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium were left all wet after the heavens opened up.
Millions more around the world also were denied of what was potentially shaping up to be an outstanding spectacle with Sri Lanka on 146 for three after 32.5 overs. After Brett Lee and Shaun Tait had made early inroads, it was left to skipper Kumar Sangakkara (73) and Thilan Samaraweera (34) to steady the ship by posting 71 for the fourth wicket.
When the umpires called a halt to the proceedings, it was clear that this torrential downpour wasn’t going to stop. However, they waited for 21/2 hours before pulling the plug on the contest. The field was covered, but it resembled a lake and it looked as if it might be able to host a game of water polo.
The teams took away a point apiece, leaving both with five, one behind surprise Group A leader Pakistan.
Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting intimated he was relieved the game was abandoned as the pitch was showing increasing signs of taking spin. And this was a fair assessment as the Australians are prone to playing spinners.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, fielded three top-rated spinners — Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath — and skipper Sangakkara believed they could contain the Aussies if his batsmen posted around 250 runs.
Now here is hoping the rains will stay away from two other highly anticipated matchups in Group B action in India on Sunday. At Chennai, England faces South Africa, while India hosts giant-killer Ireland at Bangalore.
While these two games share the spotlight, the attack on the bus ferrying the West Indies squad after its one-sided win over Bangladesh at Dhaka on Friday, continues to cast its shadow on the tournament.
Fans angry with the abysmal display of their team also reportedly attacked the house of Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan. The local police chief in the town of Magura said several motorcycle riders stopped and stoned the house that was occupied by Shakib’s mother and sister.
And some 3,000 held a protest march on the campus grounds of Dhaka University and torched Bangladesh cricket jerseys.
The moronic behaviour of some cricket fans isn’t something new on the subcontinent where passions run high. Four years ago, India’s current captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, also was a victim of thugs. Some 200 of them brought down the walls and pillars of his home that was under construction in the eastern city of Ranchi.
They vented their frustration after India’s shocking five-wicket World Cup loss to Bangladesh in its opening match at Port of Spain, Trinidad. Elsewhere, fans burned effigies of then-captain Rahul Dravid and opening batsman Virender Sehwag.
Dhoni, who already has a lot on his plate, carrying the hopes of a billion fans, yesterday pleaded with fans to control their passions.
“You must remember that players are not living at home, but their families are, and they don’t have anything to do with cricket,” he said. “Fans of cricket should be with you when you are not doing well. Those are the real fans.’’