Sri Lanka’s excellent victory in Nagpur brought wide smiles to the tourists’ faces, for the first time on a tough tour, and interestingly a change of wardrobe from the beautiful Archana Vijaya, who put aside her normal partisanship with a bright flash of Sri Lanka yellow en route to Chandigarh.
No doubt the cricket-loving Archana will be back cheering India today, but Sri Lanka’s win has definitely spiced up the final T20 game tonight and the five-match series that follows. After a one-sided Test series we now appear to have a real contest on our hands.
I am also happy to be back in Chandigarh, the northernmost point of this Indian adventure. I have fond memories of this easy-going Punjab city. The well-planned city is blessed with traffic-free streets and is one of the very few towns where you can wander around hassle-free.
Punjab is also home to India’s thriving cricket equipment manufacturing industry and players love stocking up on gear when they come to this part of the world. I remember meeting my good friend Amit Mahajan, the owner of KG Sports, when I came here in 1997 for a Test match. I used his gear for the rest of my career. Travelling around has been made easier on this trip by the BCCI’s provision of charter flights for the players and TV crew, but even that that could not prevent an airport delay. Fortunately, we were entertained at the airport lounge by “Hoggy” (Brad Hogg) and then on-board during the flight by Murali.
Murali wandered to the back of the plane for a chat and was soon in healthy debate with Siva (Laxman Sivaramakrishnan), C Hathurasingha from Sri Lanka’s coaching staff, Hoggy and myself. Among other things, the great art of spin was discussed in detail with the final conclusion that Siva was indeed up there as a world-class spinner with Shane Warne — although, unfortunately for him, for not nearly as long as Warne.