The capacity of the new venue for the first two World Cup games is more than the total population of the Hambantota region. Still, with the who’s who of the island nation — political bigwigs, film fraternity and former cricketing heroes - set to travel from all corners of the nation for Sri Lanka’s World Cup opener against Canada on Sunday, no seat is likely to be vacant.
Amidst all those supporting the local team, there will be a considerable contingent from Moratuwa and Kalutara whose loyalties will be divided. While they would obviously want to see a home team victory, they would also be cheering for Ruvindu Gunasekara as he takes the field for Canada.
The 19-year-old son of a former Sri Lankan first-class player who shifted to Canada 10 years ago will be making his Cup debut.
“I played against Sri Lanka in the under-19 World Cup last year. But playing in a senior World Cup is something I am looking forward to,” the southpaw, who has taken a break from studying business administration to explore the possibilities of turning a professional cricketer, told HT.
“Quite a few of my relatives are coming to watch the game. That makes the occasion all the more special for me.”
The Sri Lankan conditions are not alien for the batsman. He represented the Badureliya Sports Club in the domestic one-day competition last year.
The youngster, apart from hoping to help Canada clinch an unlikely quarterfinal berth, is also eager to get batting tips from from former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene.
“I met him once when he had come to Toronto for the quadrangular Twenty20 tournament (in 2008),” he said. “I hope to learn more from him this time around.”