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No Sri Lanka, no interest at Dambulla

cricket Updated: Aug 11, 2010 00:07 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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The only missing link during the Ross Taylor-Scott Styris rescue act for New Zealand against India was the crowd's involvement. Not that the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium was biased against the only non-subcontinental team in the tournament.

But, unfortunately, there were hardly any spectators at the stadium to witness a fascinating partnership.

Thanks to only a 100-odd spectators being around, the exciting cricket played by the Kiwis did not set the pulse racing, with the usual noise missing from the stands.

In fact, the number of spectators for Tuesday's tri-series opener was even less than the total number of security guards at the venue.

Dambulla, traditionally, attracts spectators only when the home team is featuring. But whenever two visiting teams face off in the city of prehistoric significance, the locals turn their back on the stadium, which isn't very far from the heart of the city.

"It's the psyche of the locals who are happy to see non-Sri Lanka matches on television," a member of the tour organising committee said.

"The only way to bring in the crowds is to get some school kids, but with day-night affairs, even that becomes difficult."

Just what would happen, if New Zealand, who surpassed all their expectations in the first half of the tie in the opener, square off against India in the final of the tournament? It would be rather pathetic if the final is played out in front of sinmilarly empty stands.

Tuesday, anyway, wasn't much different than last month's Asia Cup, when even a high-voltage India-Pakistan match did not draw a full house.

The only full house of the tournament, which featured Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was for the final when the hosts lost to their neighbouring giants.

Do you need any more evidence to justify cricket's reputation of being a television sport?