I have to start this post by thanking all friends, family and most of all total strangers from Pakpassion and Twitter that have read the previous blog post and “Saharaaoed” me with their generous comments. It’s really appreciated guys, hope all of you could be here joining in the fun. Well not all of you but “kehney main kia harj hai”. So as I mentioned in the previous post my adventurous self had totally given in to my inner desiness/laziness/jet lag call it whatever you may and I slept a whopping 16 hours on my second day. But not to worry today was the big match, the clash of the titans to say the least. I didn’t expect there to be so much hype about this game but apparently Aus and Sri games are freakin huge here on the Island. I guess it makes sense, both teams having faced each other twice on the world cup final stage (sharing the spoils so far) plus what with all the Murali/Daryl Harper controversies the Lankans really have it in for the Aussies. Who can blame them?
Tickets for this match were sold out way before I had planned this trip a month ago and my plan was to get one in black. I had heard that the Rs 50 ticket was going for Rs 2000 in the neighborhood adjacent to the Premedesa (which of course had to be a muslim neighbourhood and a “garh” for the Islamic Jamaat). A local dhabaa owner, a brother of course had guaranteed me a ticket before the Pak-Can game for the big clash and I intended to visit the same guy to get my hands on any thing possible. Found out that the best beaches in Colombo were like a five-minute walk from the Aurora guesthouse and made the compulsory walk to check the scene out. It was more of a forced endeavor really, as the sole purpose of the trip is cricket and given the extreme lack of (excuse me ladies) poondi during the first two days here not attracted that much to the beach anyway. The scene as it turned out was a bunch of nice Srilankan lads playing a game of Kabbadi while stray dogs lazed in the shade of the palm trees. I could imagine the place being all happening at night with all the restaurant shacks lined up on the coast but right now all I got was a galore of quizzical…mmmm….wtf…looks from the locals. They did well to hide it I must say but I know when some one is giving me the “look at this ass**** strutting around in his shorts and banyan listening to music on his headphones look” when I see one. So the excursion lasted like ten minutes and I went and ate at a local dhabba on the main street which served excellent chai in a glass Dil Se style http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03TJMIpEEWA (sorry I just had to put that in there, what a scene!!!, also I know more than half of you who watched that went on to see the Chayiaan Chayiaan scene, come on admit it
(Kabbadi at the beach)
Caught the 100 from Mt Lavinia to Colombo Fort station , as sweaty and smelling of urine as ever. The purpose of public transport in Colombo just like other major cities in the Subcontinent is not to provide transportation to the general public from one part of the city to another but to make money, which is why we are blessed with two hours of amazing nineties bollywood music when really it should only be taking twenty minutes. The CTA, which goes bankrupt habitually, should seriously take note of Colombo’s bus service financial model. Picked up my reserved tickets for the train to Kandy from the Fort (really excited about the train ride btw, haven’t ridden on a desi train in ages) and then took the bus down to the checkpoints located out side the Premedesa.
(Railway Station at Fort)
Here was the tough part. To get to the restaurant dealer I wanted to buy the tickets from, I had to clear the check points and the only way they were letting people in was by looking at their tickets first. I first tried a couple of groups (college students by the look of it) to see if they were willing to do some shady dealing, but no luck. Even worse actually as they said you won’t find any black tickets today every one wanted to go watch the game. What to do? What to do? Aha…..I know this is really evil but I stood to a corner and just observed the police walas doing the checks to see which one didn’t really know English. There was this nice plump one I gathered from a far, thick mustache who looked and was acting just the type. Luckily I had my Sri Lanka Zimbabwe game ticket in my bag pack, took it out confidently strolled up to the guy and woalaaa!! It worked. He basically just saw the Sri Lankan flag on the ticket and let me in. If only the snobbish ICC weren’t such a pain in the butt and had not planted their literate workers on the stadium gates this might have worked through and through. So a kilometer walk and into the dhabba for my well earned ticket in black. Man this is going to be good! The atmosphere was electrifying to say the least, every one was dressed in the Lion’s blue even the Aussies I think were hard pressed to support the Lankans today. But yea things weren’t as rosy as expected, got a big time jhandi from the dhaaba guy (he was probably pissed that I didn’t join him for the afternoon prayer the other day) but no seriously though no body was selling any thing. Asked around from countless shady looking characters and there are plenty of then around in this neighborhood let me tell you but nope nothing doing. I was getting a bit down I must admit the constant roar emitting from the stands not helping the mood. Suddenly one of the college student groups I asked pointed at this skinny little man in a dhoti. He knew two words of English probably ticket and 2000 and that’s all he had to know really. He directed me to follow him and took some narrow lanes that lead us away from the stadium and the police. This was looking increasingly fishy but I really wanted the ticket and so decided to keep on following him. Then he zipped into this little shack of a house and shouted for one of his friends. I was on the verge of pissing myself as I followed in and his friend appeared out of thin air. I kid you not guys this guy had a huge scar splashed across his right check and eye. I must have passed out some amount of urine by now in my pants. Any moment now this guy was going to reach under his lungi and take out his dagger and that was going to be it. Bye bye world cup, bye bye Pakistan-India final :p………he did reach under his lungi but to my and more so my bladder’s extreme comfort those jagged hands only reappeared with a stash of 50 rupee tickets. He took one out and gave it to me and just as suddenly as he had appeared Scarface disappeared into one of the countless dark alleys. I could have just run away with the ticket you know, there was no way the skinny little guy could do any thing about it, but then I had a vision of Scarface and reluctantly slipped the guy the money and “kultied” my way out of there.
(The Mahol Inside)
I had the most awesome view in the general stand right behind the bowlers arm at long offish from Lee’s end. Watching the Sri Lankans practice I realized why they are by far they are the most brilliant of fielding sides. Simple….they put in a heck of a lot of effort into it. The team was out their warming up and doing fielding drills for a good hour and a half two hours before the game, compared to the 15 minutes gentle “tahalna” our boys enjoyed before the Canada game. Unforgivable really, in such a close competition the big games are going to come down to brilliance in fielding and teams will ignore the importance of this facet of the game at their own peril. Steven Smith (aka Suar ka bacha) basically changed the game with his catch and run out, Sri Lanka were always going to be chasing the game after that. Not that it amounted to much, out of a clear blue sky appeared the most murkiest of clouds, and although it’s really early for monsoon it certainly came down as if their was no tomorrow. The size and amounts of covering that Sri Lanka has along with the quantity of ground staff is quite breath taking. There were at least 150-200 people working on the field at one point. It’s a real shame really Sanga was looking in awesome nick and it was turning out to be a fantastic game of cat and mouse, plus not to mention my frustration at acquiring the ticket through such travail for no avail.
Basically just made my way back home after that, oh…ate the ground stall KFC and I don’t know if they have the chicken fried rice back in Pakistan but they should definitely add it to their menu. Well not the rice itself so much but the delicious chutni they serve with it should definitely be given out free to the world. Getting absolutely drenched in the thunderous rain was awesome btw and yes Ammi I made sure I don’t catch pneumonia. It’s off to Kandy tomorrow morning in the TRAIN!! will keep you guys posted. Much more on Pakistan Cricket next time round hopefully will have access to Internet.
Also Pakpassion has asked to me officially cover the SL leg of the world cup which is awesome news and I am grateful for the opportunity. Thanks a lot guys.
Sanga Goes to fifty
Predictions-India pummel Ireland (Sachin, Sehwag both firing)
S.A beat Eng in close encounter expect Pietersen to fire.