From where did coimbatore crop up?

England’s captain Stuart Broadhad to field undiplomatic questions about the way Yuvraj Singh smashed him for six sixes in an over at the T20 World Cup in 2007.-AP

The drive into Colombo’s heart offers a sneak peek of its recent cricket threads thanks to lingering banners about the recently concluded Sri Lankan Premier League and fresh ones on the global Twenty20 tussle. From K. C. Vijaya Kumar.

A Sunday, September 16, dawns with a leap into the skies. And thanks to the quixotic corners that Indian aviation gets into at times, a normal Bangalore-Chennai-Colombo flight path now draws Coimbatore into the picture!

Upon arrival at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, the fatigue vanishes as banners that scream ‘The world is playing’; ‘Twenty times the excitement,’ ‘Twenty times the action’ etc., serve as a positive pointer towards the ICC World Twenty20. So time then for three weeks of frenzied cricket, tight deadlines and hopefully an Indian title triumph since that September day at Johannesburg in 2007 when S. Sreesanth caught Misbah-ul-Haq off Joginder Sharma and the legend of M. S. Dhoni was born.

The drive into Colombo’s heart offers a sneak peek of its recent cricket threads thanks to lingering banners about the recently concluded Sri Lankan Premier League and fresh ones on the global Twenty20 tussle. And yes, Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga plug a malt beverage and a soft drink.

Chirpy auto-drivers, shady ones too

Mohammad Faleel drives an auto and speaks warmly. A trip to the R. Premadasa Stadium is enlivened by his talk in that sing-song Sri Lankan Tamil which is such a pleasure to hear. “Our ancestors came here may be about 500 years back and I can vouch that you will fall for Sri Lanka. This is a lovely country. We had our problems but all is well now. At the end of the day, ours is a small country and all issues can be solved,” he says.

Another driver, Dissanayake, asks whether we scribes work in Reuters and informs us about Hyundai being a partner for the ICC World Twenty20! The easy vibes with these enterprising men are however marred when another takes a late night detour and though Colombo’s backyards are revealed, no one is in the mood to accept the wastage of time.

Old-world feel

In Colombo, a turn on the road often leads you to quaint heritage buildings that spring from its amalgam of British legacy, Buddhist thought and coastal air. Exactly opposite to the World Trade Centre, is a building that has ancient walls, tiled roofs and an invigorating ambience. The Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct is a 350-year old structure that has evolved from being, as its name suggests, a Dutch Hospital to its latest avatar of a shopping complex featuring curio shops, restaurants and pubs with open-air sit-outs. The premises was thrown open to the public last December and a visit one recent night while Sri Lanka defeated Zimbabwe at Hambantota with Ajantha Mendis wreaking havoc, witnessed hearty laughter, the clinking of glasses and high spirits.

The pubs like Work In Progress, O! Pub and the Ministry of Crab, which incidentally has Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara among its co-owners, had fans rooting for Sri Lanka. And while leaving the place, a waiter spoke about Sri Lanka’s past. “They say it was once attached to India before the seas broke through,” he said as geography and history merged while the present was all bubbly and nice like the cream sodas you get in Colombo’s little shops.

Flashback, flashpoint

Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes off Stuart Broad in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 at South Africa in 2007, is the stuff of legend. It is a memory to be savoured and stowed away but for a few Indian television reporters, it is a convenient dagger that can be thrust into Broad’s self-esteem. Pointless queries, about what the England captain thought about that phase, are raised in press conferences. “I am just focussing on the Afghanistan game,” Broad said once and on another occasion, shot back: “What’s the question?” Later he did praise Yuvraj’s comeback from cancer, but a sour taste lingered.