First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
For a country where superstar musicians like Bryan Adams and ABBA only come to perform well into their retirement, any place that gathers more than 30,000 people is either a political rally or a cricket match. With no political influence at Kyazoonga, I managed to win two tickets through their ballot process, and then who wouldn't choose this game, eh?
Just typing "Sri Lanka" is an understatement. I rooted for SRI LANKA.
World Cup prediction
Sri Lanka have the edge, with good temperament of the top order and the bowling unit.
Tillakaratne Dilshan sneaked in with, first a wicket from five overs, and then an important 73.
One thing I'd have changed
Mr Chamara Silva. Tim Southee did the home crowd a favour when he bowled Silva out for a depressing 13 from 25.
Face-off I relished
After Ross Taylor won the Shoaib Akhtar battle, I was waiting for the Taylor-Malinga face-off. Taylor just got one boundary off Malinga and was beaten by Mendis later on. It was not quite what I hoped for.
Jesse Ryder's crazy catch to send Upul Tharanga back. For those few seconds, I forgot which team I was supporting.
Tharanga's family and friends were sitting in front of me, and coincidence or not, the man himself was stationed at the boundary in front of us. He turned to us and waved and the whole section of the crowd went nuts.
Shot of the day
The injured Angelo Mathews' 47th-over six. His lofted on-drive could not have come at a better time. After Silva's lack of heroics, Mathews made the final sprint over the finish line.
There were some South Africans (who had presumably booked tickets in advance), Pakistanis (probably got the semi-final days mixed up), Indians (because Indians are everywhere) and only about 35,000-odd Sri Lankans. They came in all shapes and sizes, gave the great Murali the biggest cheer he could get when bowling his final over in Colombo. There were some high-profile fans in attendance too, including Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president.
The PA system kept the crowd going, but it was the local papare bands, in full flow, who were the main attraction. If you haven't heard the papare, you haven't been to Sri Lanka.
ODIs v Twenty20
The ODI is like a ten-course meal, while Twenty20 is like KFC. An ODI requires technique, talent and temperament, whereas a Twenty20 only needs Yusuf Pathan. ODIs are Mercedes Benzes where the Twenty20 is a Subaru STI.
Bye bye Colombo
I'm definitely going to miss the World Cup action in Colombo. I truly believe this was the best World Cup so far. It had its fair share of upsets, but the favourites pulled through. Paring future World Cups down to 10 teams will only hurt the game; 12 should be ideal: divided into four groups of three, with two teams qualifying from each group to play the quarter-finals.
Now I can't wait for the Twenty20 action to begin here next year.
Marks out of 10
8.5. Dilshan, Murali, Sangakkara and Ryder were largely responsible.
A World Cup semi-final, with the host team in full flow - what more can we ask for? Great fielding kept the Kiwis in the contest till the last few minutes, and in the end Sri Lanka pulled through. An unmatchable World Cup experience.
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