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‘Colourful’ crowd and dropped catches

“The crowd was very colourful, and it was tough to spot the ball once it became a little dirty,” said Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni soon after the third match, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Aug 26, 2008 01:40 IST
Anand Vasu

After playing in front of empty stands for the bulk of the Test series and the stadium at Dambulla not being the easiest to travel to, the two teams played in front of a full house for the first time on Sunday.

Colombo has not had a marquee game under lights in a while and it showed, with the 40,000-capacity R Premadasa Stadium being filled quite easily.

What’s more, with tickets being oversold, long queues stretched outside the stadium even after it filled up, and at one point fans were clambering over the walls to sneak into the stands.

What this did was set up an electric atmosphere for the game, with non-stop activity in the stands.

The thing that set this crowd apart from some others was the level of noise it generated, beating sticks, empty soft drink bottles and anything else that helped them keep tune with the band that was belting out popular Sinhala and Bollywood tunes.

While this set the stage perfectly for a day-night match, the frenetic waving and dancing had an unforeseen effect as well.

When India were on the field, four chances went abegging, and only one of those was a quick one to slip, where Rohit Sharma could not hold onto the ball after it took a thick edge and flew hard at him.

The other three chances were all in the outfield, and put down by the better fielders in the unit — Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and S Badrinath. While you can fault India's ground fielding somewhat, the catching has been safe over the last few years.

Could it be that the players were not picking the ball up early under the lights? Mahendra Singh Dhoni had an explanation to offer.

“The crowd was very colourful, and it was tough to spot the ball once it became a little dirty,” said Dhoni soon after the third match. “When it was new and white, it was easy to spot, but as it got older, you could see from the way the players were reacting late that it was a little difficult to pick up the path of the ball.

But that’s the way it goes, there is nothing you can do about it. You just have to make sure that your concentration levels are up all the time.”

Any team will accept playing in front of a full house of passionate fans over playing in front of empty stands or disinterested fans. Now it's just up to the teams to keep their eyes firmly on the ball.