Fans

APRIL 06, 2014

India v Sri Lanka, World T20, final, Mirpur

Pakistan fan turns Dhoni fan for the day

ESPNcricinfo staff

MS Dhoni has always been a popular cricketer and he added another to the legion of his supporters when he gifted a Pakistan fan a complimentary pass to India's World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka.

Mohammed Bashir, a Pakistan fan from Chicago, has been a familiar face at most Pakistan games and he was spotted by the Indian captain at India's training session on the eve of the final.

"Dhoni is familiar with my face as he has seen me before the Champions Trophy's Indo-Pak game in Birmingham. I told him that I don't have a ticket to watch the finals," Bashir told PTI. "Dhoni then called some Kaka [India's masseur Ramesh Mane] and told him to arrange for my ticket. Kaka promptly gave me a complimentary pass. I am completely moved by his gesture."

There was one more little gift in store for Bashir, courtesy Dhoni. "He asked about me and I told him that I am settled in Chicago," Bashir said. "[Then], since I was standing there for a long time, he told someone to give me fruits. I am a Pakistan fan but for today, I am a Dhoni fan."

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Sri Lankan cricket

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Concrete blocks for stumps, a crudely-cut plank for a bat, and a chewed-up tennis ball, all carried off the pitch for honking motorists waiting to pass, then wheeled out again for a few minutes, until the next four-wheeled intrusion appears. Street cricket has been a centrepiece of the South Asian childhood for generations, but if Sri Lanka's authorities are to have their way, it could soon become extinct on the island.

On Wednesday, a Sri Lanka Police spokesperson said playing cricket on the roads could lead to arrests, adding that three poor Colombo souls had already been apprehended for this 'offence'. It is a symptom of Sri Lanka's rate of economic progress. In years gone by, cricket had had the critical mass to dominate the streetscape, but since this decade's economic growth kicked in, the tide has turned for traffic.

Though police have deemed cricket the biggest threat to traffic flow, other activities that may block the road - like washing parked cars and mixing concrete - may also lead to trouble. In cricket, though, as in so many other spheres of Sri Lankan life, much-vaunted development has been the death knell for a slice of old-world Sri Lankan charm.

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Was this the best series victory Australia's cricket team has ever produced? I have no idea; in any event, "best" is a bland superlative. But there's little doubt that this was the most carnal of victories - carnal because it was a pure product of desire, an achievement so driven by lust it could easily pass as a Pedro Almodovar film ("La Revancha: Los Ashes"). And it was a victory that, more than any other in recent memory, the country as a whole could relate to at a deep level, a feast more enjoyable for the famine that preceded it, the kind of win to make you believe in progress, and self-betterment, and the very perfectibility of things.

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An award-winning local photographer, Hamilton eventually earned the right to continue to take his photos from the stands after a bit of negotiation with security. The security personnel, of course, earned their fair share of boos from the fans for being party spoilers. And the fans, it is likely, lost a beach ball in due course.

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