Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Sri Lanka v Australia, fourth ODI, Colombo

And the band played on

... while the Titanic sank. If only Clarke had won the toss, things would have been so much better for this Lanka fan

Rukshan Fernando

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Xavier Doherty trapped Chamara Silva lbw for a duck, Sri Lanka v Australia, 4th ODI, R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, August 20, 2011
Xavier Doherty spoiled a Sri Lankan party © AFP
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Choice of game
Since the World Cup game between the two sides was a washout, I was determined to go for this one, and bought tickets the day they were out. After Sri Lanka bounced back to win the third match, my prediction was that they would win this one and keep the series alive. After all we are known to be invincible at home.

Team supported
Sri Lanka.

Key performer
Xavier Doherty is not one to dominate the headlines, but he got the job done with a tight spell that strangled the Lankans.

Three things I'd have changed
For Michael Clarke to have won the toss and put Sri Lanka in, for I read in ESPNcricinfo's preview of the game that Australia lost four of nine ODIs when he's won the toss, and only three of 21 games when he's lost the toss.

A stronger opening stand by the Sri Lankan openers.

Chamara Silva's inclusion in the side. I think the 30,000-plus fans in the stadium were wondering the same thing, especially as he got out in two balls without scoring.

Face-off I relished
I was looking forward to two but neither materialised. Tharanga v Bollinger - after providing many chances in the previous match this would have been an epic contest had Brett Lee not pipped him to the post. And Malinga v Watson, because I expected the Australian opener to go after the bowler who got him out early in the third ODI. But it was not to be. Malinga got his man again.

Wow moment
The catch to get rid of Kumar Sangakkara was the gamechanger. It wasn't spectacular, but for Australia it came at a time when the partnership was beginning to take momentum. That wicket precipitated the Sri Lankan collapse.

Shot of the day
You couldn't help admire the level of control Shaun Marsh had in the game during the chase. He had no fear and dispatched every bowler apart from Malinga and Mendis.

Fancy-dress index
With the exception of a bunny sponsoring a telephone network, there was little to see. Of course there was a group of shirtless men with the letters spelling out Sri Lanka in a unique Sinhala and English combination painted on their torsos.

Entertainment
Entertainment is never a disappointment during matches in Sri Lanka. An awesome private Papare band playing at the row behind me softened the blow of this thumping defeat. To an extent it felt like being on the Titanic (movie version, at least) - while the ship was sinking the band was playing away. It might take a while for my ears to recover but it worth it.

Banner of the day
Apart from the usual "Sri Lankan stuff is too hot to handle", an interesting banner caught my attention when it was carried by a group across the stands. It was today's dinner menu which included an expected Kangaroo Curry, a Wallaby sambol, a Koala mix of some sort and surprisingly Kiwi chutney.

Overall
The atmosphere and energy at the ground were in line with the true Sri Lankan spirit of having a good time no matter the outcome. However, had the result been more favourable I'm sure the roof would have come down.

Marks out of 10
3, mostly for Mahela Jayawardene's gutsy knock and Malinga's breakthroughs which gave us a hint of hope. But apart from those the Sri Lankan team did not really turn up.

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Rukshan Fernando, 23, works in the supply-chain division of one of the largest multinational companies in Sri Lanka. Cricket is his passion and his release, and he's the go-to person for any cricket-related news at home, office or even with his friends.

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