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A balm for troubled souls

It's been a tournament that has proven to be a crowd-puller of sorts, especially among the Asian diaspora in Britain. So, with two sub-continental teams contesting the WT20 final on Sunday, there was a full house at Lord's, writes Venkat Ananth.

cricket Updated: Jun 21, 2009 23:19 IST
Venkat Ananth

It's been a tournament that has proven to be a crowd-puller of sorts, especially among the Asian diaspora in Britain. So, with two sub-continental teams contesting the WT20 final on Sunday, there was a full house at Lord's.

The initial disappointment of not winning the toss was shrugged off by the large Pakistani contingent as Abdul Razzaq gave them the opportunity to go berserk. A walk around the Edrich Stand, and the only thing one could hear was aggressive chants — "Pakistan Zindabad, Jeeve Jeeve Pakistan".

Shan Pathmanaban, a Sri Lankan fan, who paid £1000 for his ticket, said: "It will be a big thing for us if we win. But being fair, I think Pakistan need this trophy more. Their country has gone through a lot in the past two years and even if I am supporting Sri Lanka, Pakistan winning the WT20 would not hurt me," he said.

Quite a few of the Sri Lankan fans agreed with him. "To reach this far, when everyone was talking about India and South Africa, was great. But, for us it doesn't make a difference as to who wins or loses this match. Both our nations are going through difficult times and whoever wins, it'll take some pressure off the people back home," said Giyan Samarasinghe, who made the trip from France.

The Pakistanis were predictably boisterous. Syed Zulqarnain from Colchester said: "It's a massive game for us, with serious ramifications. Our country has seen enough of problems recently - Taliban, terrorism and foreign intervention. People back home don't know if they'll live to see another day. Cricket will somehow bring that 1% normalcy we need now," he said. Hamad, a fan from Bradford said: "It's about time we win this tournament.”

However, there were others who didn't have anything to do with cricket. The Tamil protesters were back outside the ground.

Their demands were the same — an ICC ban on Sri Lanka. This time though they had a balloon with the British flag and a black ribbon to condemn British support for the Sri Lanka government.