Chennai, in the Southern part of India, is one of the closest cricket centres in the country to the Island nation of Sri Lanka. The two also share a common language in Tamil. Apart from this, it also seems that the city and the country share a fair number of fans.
Walking through the Wallajah road that leads to the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chepauk, a number of sports stores greet you. Apart from the usual bats and footballs that are on display, a number of team jerseys also decorate the shops.
Team outfits on display are not awfully surprising, but what is unique is that though most shops have jerseys of all the Indian Premier League (IPL) clubs, amongst the international teams the Sri Lankan jersey is a constant, even more so than the Indian jersey.
No Indian jersey
In case you are looking for an Indian team jersey, it may be a struggle. As you go inside one of the shops and ask, pat comes the reply, "No, we don't keep the Indian top," says Umesh, one of the shopkeepers. "We have all the IPL ones, they are all Indian."
But then he clarifies why the shops have Sri Lankan T-shirts? "Well, there are many reasons for it. Since we (Chennai) are so close to Sri Lanka, a lot of Lankans come over. Also there are a lot of Lankan fans here, who want their team's jersey," explains Umesh.
"There is a lot of demand for Lankan jerseys, do you also want one?"
All sold out
Move to the shop next door and they do not have the Lankan but you see an Indian jersey.
"They (Sri Lankan jerseys) are over but if you want I can order for you. You will get it in a day or two," says the shopkeeper with a big smile.
"The Indian team jerseys usually sell during India games, but Sri Lankan ones sell all the time."