The unexpected thunderstorm in the town of archaeological significance subsided on Saturday evening. But lightning may still strike the field when India and Sri Lanka face each other in a must-win tri-series encounter for the hosts on Sunday.
Five days after both teams were involved in the biggest on-field controversy between the two countries, all eyes will be on Virender Sehwag, Suraj Randiv and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Ever since Randiv, on Dilshan’s advice, bowled a deliberate no-ball leaving Sehwag stranded on 99, a lot of water has flowed through the Palk Strait.
Randiv was handed out a one-match penalty. He and Dilshan were fined for misconduct and both team managements stressed the need to move on. But the ‘hurt’ Indian cricketers are not willing to forgive and forget that easily. In public, skipper Dhoni said the incident has made his boys more aggressive, but within the spirit of the game. In private, that aggression is let loose.
“I hope Randiv plays tomorrow,” an Indian cricketer said as rain forced both teams to cancel their practice. “We would like to give it back to him by piling on runs... It’d be great to win the match and shunt them out of the tournament.”
Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, cooling off at the pool table with Mendis and Randiv, also made a jibe at Team India.
“We try and play in the right spirit. If we don’t, we always take responsibility,” he said. “But we don’t try and hide behind the press or hide behind our board.”