Colombo: Premadasa stadium looked just like a cricket venue in India during the India-England match with thousands of Indians flying in, especially since it was held on a Sunday. All hotels were fully booked with a lot of Indians present, especially from Chennai, Kerala and Bengaluru.
A few cricket fans had also flown in from Dubai, and among them were V. Rajan and Mohan Sekhar. “We have flown out from Dubai on quite a few occasions, especially if the matches happen to be on a Friday,” said Rajan. Both have also watched almost all the important 2011 World Cup matches.
“We think it is a shame if we miss a World Cup encounter between India-England; so we did not have to think twice before booking our flight,” said Sekhar.
Rajan and Sekhar are so addicted to the game that they have backed their sons to become good cricketers. Rajan’s son Vignesh represented the UAE Under-15 team and bagged the best bowler award in the Asian Cricket Council trophy three years ago, and Sekhar’s son Siddarth won the UAE schools’ best all-rounder of the year award last season.
To gain more experience, Vignesh has moved to Mumbai for his under-graduate studies, and has even captained the Mumbai Khalsa College team. Siddarth is in Bengaluru and is hoping to train at the National Cricket Academy.
Rajan and Sekhar also take pride in taking pictures of almost all the top cricketers around the world on their mobile phones. “We stayed with the team at the Taj Samudra, and so it was possible to meet many of the players during breakfast,” said Rajan, who was in for a surprise when Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni not only posed with him, but also guided him on how to take a good group picture with an iPhone.
Immediately on arrival in Colombo on Friday, Rajan and Sekhar drove down to the Galle stadium to take a look at the historic stadium that was hit by a tsunami. “It was here Muttiah Muralitharan crossed the 800-wickets mark and we wanted to have a picture taken of both of us on this ground; then we returned on time for the Australia-West Indies match,” said Rajan.
For the India-England match, they managed to get an International Cricket Council hospitality ticket, courtesy of Emirates airline. While at the hotel Rajan, who hails from Mumbai, met Rohit Sharma, whom he had met as an Under-14 cricketer. He reminded Sharma of his knocks in the Ajit Naik Memorial tournament played at the Worli Sports Club. The pair were also extremely thrilled to have watched West Indies ‘hit-man’ Chris Gayle celebrate his birthday in the hotel lounge with the West Indies women’s cricket team. Australia’s David Warner and Gayle, who are close friends, then played a game of pool.