As I was flying all the way from Singapore for the World Cup matches, I wanted to be at a game where Sri Lanka would win. I booked the tickets for this match along with the tickets for the Australia-Sri Lanka match. The match turned out to be significant because Sri Lanka were fine-tuning their combination for the knockout phase.
Sri Lanka, ever since I started watching cricket
You cannot look past Kumar Sangakkara these days. As the buzz goes, he is doing his final upgrade and each version is better than the previous one. He broke the record for most consecutive World Cup centuries in the game against Australia. He went one step further against Scotland, doing something that has never been done in history of ODIs - four awesome centuries in a row! Just when you thought that record was enough, he went out and broke yet another record, becoming the keeper with most dismissals in World Cup matches. Made me wonder if he is breaking records for fun.
Despite the formidable total that the Sri Lankan batsmen had already put on the board, the last five or six overs of the innings had to be carried by the bowlers. I would have liked to see Angelo Mathews and Kusal Perera stay until the end. Kusal's shots were a treat to watch, specially if you are someone who still watches videos of vintage Sanath Jayasuriya knocks, but his stay was brief. Had he batted on, it would have sent a strong message to the other teams about the strength of Sri Lanka's batting.
The entire Scotland team was trying to get rid of Sangakkara. The only weakness for them to exploit was the running between the wickets and the throws would come to his end more often than not. I was also looking forward to seeing how Kyle Coetzer would threaten Sri Lanka's bowling, especially after the brilliant 156 against Bangladesh, but he didn't survive for more than two deliveries.
Four consecutive sixes by Mathews in 44th over of the innings brought the crowd to its feet. For three of those sixes, Machan had bowled with fielders at square-leg, deep midwicket and long-on. Despite that, Mathews cleared the midwicket boundary with ease. The sound off the bat was so crisp, you knew he had middled the shot. Machan put another fielder on the leg side - all four fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle were on the leg side - and Mathews responded with a fourth six, to bring up the second-fastest fifty of this World Cup and for Sri Lanka.
Kusal Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Seekkuge Prasanna, and Lasith Malinga all fielded close to where I sat. Every fielder was greeted with claps and cheers and they returned the gesture by waving back. Rob Taylor from Scotland was also fielding there when a Sri Lankan fan continuously called his name. During one of his stints, Prasanna began coughing and a Sri Lankan fan asked him if he wanted a 'kotthamalli', a Sri Lankan remedy to cure cold and cough. He laughed and waved back at the crowd.
In the 25th over, Dilshan had scored two consecutive fours off Josh Davey, playing a paddle and a sweep off the medium-pacer. The shot of the day came off the next ball when Dilshan went down on his knee once again, picked up the ball from off side, and swept it over square-leg for a six.
Empty seats outnumbered the occupied ones by large margin. But Scotland's fan zone had plenty of atmosphere and music. Towards the end of the match, a Scottish fan even gave a loud, long lecture to the team. On a few occasions, the sound of a siren from the group caught the attention of some players.
A few Scottish fans had the colours of the Scotland flag painted on their faces, while a few male spectators showed up in kilts. Sri Lanka fans were decked out in blue and yellow-coloured hair wigs and lion-painted faces.
In the mid-innings break, there was a game for spectators wearing large costumes with sponsors' logos in shapes such as a bottle, shoe, car, wheel, and box. It was fun to see them run in their costumes.
On one of the posters, 'Age like Wine' was scrapped and 'Age like Sangakkara' was written below it.
6. The loud cheers and the papare music that make a Sri Lanka game unique were missing in the action. A better fightback from Scotland might have made things interesting.
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