Sri Lankan cricket followers went through their worst hour watching their adored team dismantled brick by brick after being told to rush for tickets or be shut out from what was touted as a blockbuster Asia Cup final at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo on Sunday last week.
Many left aside everything else to beat the deadline for seat reservations as some paid as much as 40,000 bucks and nearly 15 percent according to estimates took their seats with half the Sri Lanka team blasted out from the crease.
The match was claimed as a never-to-be-missed final for Sri Lankans who had to undergo body checks to enter the 35,000 capacity heavily fortified venue and no one had to stand to attention for the National anthem that was not played unlike for the qualifying round matches.
Within minutes the match was all over and many were dumbstruck facing a national calamity as Sri Lanka’s Rock concert came crashing down, the first time it ever happened at an international cricket final where a team brought down the curtain for a score of 50.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma was stuck for words. “I cannot talk about things like how they (Sri Lanka) batted,” said Sharma. “I can talk about how we bowled and it was very pleasing to watch from the slips”.
The match was at the butt end of jokes although the result was too serious for humour to many.
One social media pun referred to a ticket holder entering the venue with four wickets down, finding his seat with eight wickets down and then witnessing the last two wickets fall as he turned around while another jab portrayed a lottery ticket with the batting card of six players who scored below 10 or zero with their mug shots on it.
Expecting a heated session at the post match media briefing an under-fire Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka unlike Sharma did not mark his presence and in his place walked in a cool-headed coach Chris Silverwood.
“We tried to make first use of the pitch batting first and we came up against a high class bowling unit and equally we did not help ourselves. It was disappointing,” said Silverwood.
But none could hide the fact that the defeat upstaged Sri Lanka Cricket’s plans for a smooth send off of the team to the World Cup next week.
That Sri Lanka was also carried away by a string of victories against lesser teams in the qualifying stage of the World Cup in June this year that created a kind of hysteria over a 13-match unbroken winning streak became ever so clearer.