Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Sri Lanka v West Indies, World Twenty20 final, Colombo

Shall we tell the president?

That he's being blamed for Sri Lanka's loss?

Sifaan Zavahir

Comments: 2 | Text size: A | A
Marlon Samuels is mobbed by his team-mates, Sri Lanka v West Indies, final, World Twenty20, Colombo, October 7, 2012
Marlon Samuels wasn't bothered by the crowd's heckling © AFP
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Choice of game
I bought the tickets in March, when they first came on sale. Sri Lanka's recent performances had not been reflective of their runners-up achievement in 2011, but I was hoping they would make it to the final and couldn't bear the thought of not having tickets if they did.

One thing I'd not have changed about the match
Before the match, there were many memes about us losing when the president was in the audience - a journalist even asked him whether he was going to be present. When he was shown on the big screen, the crowd started hooting and Facebook was flooded with disparaging remarks, which only got worse after the match. Some of the comments were funny, but it's also scary - representative of a tendency to blame things not within our control for our failings. It's the total antithesis of Mahela Jayawardene's leadership philosophy of taking ownership and responsibility. If Sri Lanka lose, it's not because of a hoodoo. It's because, on the day, the other team played better.

One thing I'd have changed about the match
Whatever the take on the president's presence, the match was already lost by then. The one moment that could have made a difference, apart from perhaps the toss, would be Nuwan Kulasekara hanging on to a chance offered by Marlon Samuels. A tough chance to be sure, but that was all he offered.

Or maybe pretend it was another semi-final - we're very good at winning those.

Tough calls
It must have been really hard to drop Rangana Herath from the side after his performance in the semi-final. On field, continuing with Lasith Malinga when he was going for runs was a measure of Jayawardene's faith in him - more often than not, he would deliver. Not this time.

Focal point
After seeing Chris Gayle's against Australia in the semi-final, we obviously wanted to see Gayle get out early (nothing personal, we love you) - a formula that worked for Sri Lanka in the Super Eights. So it was a big relief when Ajantha Mendis got him out early.

Wow moment
More than thirty thousand Sri Lankans sang the national anthem before the match started. Of course, the anthem is played at every match - some people listen, some mumble, some sing aloud. But this time it was just bursting with pride and hope - never has the anthem meant more to me than it did today.

Close encounter
Marlon Samuels was fielding at deep backward square leg to Lahiru Thirimanne and the crowd started booing him. Game-on: he spread his arms and signaled "louder" and "louder", and after the delivery, turned around, doffed his cap and took a bow.

Shot of the day
Jayawardene's reverse-pull that got him dismissed. As long as he was there to guide the chase, we felt it was doable, even though he didn't look as fluent as he did against Pakistan. His wicket stunned us. Maybe he wouldn't have gone for such a high-risk shot if not for the D/L pressure… who knows?

Crowd meter
It's amazing how a six can get all the hidden flags waving again, especially when it came when all hope seemed lost. After that six Kulasekara followed it with more boundaries, and the flags just seemed to multiply. But all hopes for a last-minute miracle were soon dashed and the flags went back into hiding.

Entertainment
Gangnam style may be taking the world by storm but it wasn't appropriate for the victory lap. It's a song about posers and wannabes, and the West Indian team is anything but. But Test-Match purists might find it totally appropriate.

ODI v Twenty20?
I prefer Test cricket, but I'm not a purist. There's more time for a complex plot to evolve, and it tests the depth of the teams' capabilities. And, for the first ten overs of the West Indies innings, this even looked like an experimental Test match played under lights.

Response of the day
The best response I got to my multiple Facebook updates was from a Croatian friend who lived in Sri Lanka for a year. "Sif, I don't even follow cricket, but I was never more informed about a match. Including ones I actually watched. Dunno whether to thank you or block you."

A fan's sentiment
It was heartbreaking to lose yet another final. Watching the Sri Lankan innings unravel, I wondered, why does this feel so bad? After all, it's just a game. I think the high disappointment is due to the high expectations - opportunities for us to excel on a global stage are rare, and the cricket team therefore shoulders the burden of the country's ambitions.

Sri Lankan despair as West Indies close in on victory, Sri Lanka v West Indies, final, World Twenty20, Colombo, October 7, 2012
The local fans' expectations were high, so the disappointment was bitter © ICC/Getty
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Overall
It's nice to have your team thrash the opposition, but to really get the money's worth, there should be tension, and ideally the match should be evenly poised for as long as possible. For the first half, it was a good see-saw battle, but our chase never really got into gear. So, from a drama perspective this was a 7 in a tournament that had already produced at least six 10s (SL v NZ, WI v Eng, Pak v SA, WI v NZ, Ind v SA, SL v Pak)

But the atmosphere was 10/10 - the buzz, the camaraderie, the memes, the pent-up expectation. Probably the next major event we'll host will be the Asia Cup. We'll be there for another dose of adrenaline.

Final thoughts
It would be easy to blame Malinga for the loss (if you're not on a blame-the-president trip). But that would be unfair. We cannot alternately worship them when they perform and vilify them when they don't. Being armchair critics may help salve our pain, but it is an injustice by the team that we love so much.

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Sifaan, with Genting Bear, has been to 13 matches this tournament. If that surprises you, you should think twice about inviting him for a wedding (don't worry, not all bears accompanying 35-year-old men are indecent). Then again, as a Firestarter at a boutique consultancy, his work entails getting people to question their paradigms and unlearn their assumptions.

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Comments: 2 
Posted by Tweety20 on (October 8, 2012, 19:38 GMT)

''It would be easy to blame Malinga for the loss (if you're not on a blame-the-president trip). But that would be unfair. We cannot alternately worship them when they perform and vilify them when they don't. Being armchair critics may help salve our pain, but it is an injustice by the team that we love so much''. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT,IM SURE THE TEAM IS MORE UPSET THAN WE ARE.MY HEART GOES OUT TO THEM,THEY TRIED THEIR BEST.I THANK THEM FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR THE BRAVE WAY THEY FOUGHT FOR OUR BEAUTIFUL LITTLE ISLAND'S PRIDE.WHATEVER HAPPENS THEY ARE OUR LIONS AND WE LOVE THEM TO THE END.KEEP FIGHTING,NEVER GIVE UP!

Posted by   on (October 8, 2012, 8:53 GMT)

i felt it too: that awesome moment when 35,000 sing our National Anthem in unison...& I agree with you, its not fair that Lasith is blamed, he tried his best. It just was Marlon Samuels night, kudos to him...

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