Choice of game:
When the Sri Lanka v Australia World Cup match was washed out in 2011, I missed the long-awaited opportunity to relive the memories of the 1996 final. As soon as the 2015 World Cup tickets were issued, I reserved them. As the day arrived, it became clear the match had a significant impact on who they will meet in the quarter-finals, and I had flown in from Singapore to be a part of it. Most Cricket experts predicted Australia to win the match.
Sri Lanka every day.
Glenn Maxwell. Not only did he add 30-40 runs to the possible total, he scored his first century which was eluding him for a long time (Almost did this time as well on 98), much to the delight of Australian fans. After scoring the century, he took time to let go of Watson from his embrace, and tears were visible in his eyes. Could feel even from the distance how much the century meant to him. He played an absolute peach of an innings.
One thing you'd have changed:
Chandimal being cramped. Until then Sri Lanka had the momentum and the rhythm. Chandimal was scoring quickly, while Mathews was looking to stay till the end. After Chandimal retired hurt, the magic evaporated, and it was downhill for Sri Lanka since then.
Face-off you relished:
I was looking forward to how the battle between David Warner and Lasith Malinga would pan out. They have a history: Malinga has got the better of Warner a few times. This time, too, Malinga set up him with his trademark yorkers, and followed them up with a slower ball to get him out.
Under the microscope:
A string of events was set in motion when Dilshan started to bowl even as the umpire, Ian Gould, stretched out his arm, and asked the bowler to 'hold on'. When the umpire saw Dilshan running into bowl, he exchanged words with Dilshan. Then during the drinks break, when Dilshan kicked the ball to Gould, who was not happy again, and was seen having a serious word with him before Dilshan joined the rest of his team-mates for drinks. Again, while Sri Lanka was batting, there was a third-umpire call during which time Dilshan asked for drinks to be brought onto the ground. Gould was unhappy this time, too, indicating that Dilshan was delaying the match. Dilshan pointed to the big screen that showed the decision was still pending.
The catch Thisara Perera took to get rid of Steven Smith had 'spectacular' written all over it. It was a very hard chance, and he did a brilliant job to get to the ball and take it safely.
Ironically, after spoiling the party for Sri Lankan fans, Glenn Maxwell had to field for a few overs near the boundary just in front of the Sri Lankan fan zone. The crowd made a lot of noise and for some time a rapport was building between the him and the crowd. Maxwell was responding dynamically with gestures and laughs.
Shot of the day: It is really hard to pick one shot because there were some eye-pleasing shots from batsmen of both teams. My pick of the match is the six Dinesh Chandimal scored off Watson in 36th over. His quick innings came as a surprise package to most Sri Lankan fans.
The match had been sold out before the Game day. More than 39,000 were present for the match, and although the Australian supporters outnumbered the Sri Lankans, going by the noise you would think the match was played at the Premadasa. In the sixth over, when Dilshan hit six boundaries in six balls off Mitchell Johnson, the Sri Lankan flags fluttered with cheers and chants typical to Sri Lankan supporters. A crowd wave, say Sydney wave, began and it was picked up by rest of the crowd. Glenn Maxwell got the biggest cheer when he scored the hundred. The moment when Sangakkara passed 14,000 ODI runs also received a standing ovation.
They played English songs as well as Sri Lankan songs. When there was a wicket or a six, rock music was played while fireworks were set off near the sidescreens. From time to time, the giant screen entertained the crowd by picking up people with kiss cam, dancing cam, and costume cam. But the famous Papare music stood out as always.
Banner of the day
"In Sanga We Trust"
It was fantastic game of Cricket. Though Maxwell walked away as the hero, there were other good innings from Steven Smith, Clarke, Sangakka, Dilshan, and Chandimal. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic with a pleasant weather and papare music.
Marks out of 10
8. Would have given 10 had Sri Lanka won.