Cricket has a powerful way of bringing Sri Lankans together. One of the most celebrated sports in Sri Lanka, the astounding achievements and the great sportsmen this game has produced is one of the reasons our country is known throughout (for things other than corruption in the higher echelon, whoops).
This year hasn't been that great as fans of cricket in Sri Lanka, and you have to admit that you win some, you lose some. Yet, this doesn't mean that it was totally devoid of the Sri Lankan magic that we adore, that we thrive upon.
Here's a list of some of the most memorable moments of cricket for us this 2019!
Sri Lanka certainly was not their best at the World Cup this year. The Cricket World Cup having evaded us so many times was disappointing this 2019 from a Sri Lankan perspective but did not mean that it was totally devoid of the Sri Lankan magic of which we saw a glance of!
Who could forget the match which sparked so many "Nothing is Impossible" memes, where Sri Lanka, after being bundled out for 232/9, ousted tournament favourites and eventual recipients of the World Cup, by getting them all out for 212 in a most unexpected method.
In doing so, they kept the World Cup alive for a good couple more rounds by denying England of the points they needed to qualify at that stage. With England's wild card then, Jofra Archer, terrorizing the batsmen along with Mark Wood and Adhil Rashid, Angelo Mathews' determined 85* was a beauty to watch, and combined with Lasith Malinga's fiery spell of bowling that rained down early wickets, and Dhananjaya De Silva who contributed with a flurry of wickets, it was the upset of the tournament.
The West Indies vs Sri Lanka pair up was another epic thriller. Angelo Mathews, who hadn't bowled for eight months, not even in the nets, came out, not steaming, not running in all the way from the boundary rope, but just a small, shaky run-up, taking the wicket of centurion Nicholas Pooran and thus diminishing the West Indian flame and a thumbs down from Rihanna in the crowd, had to be one of the best, most startling moments of the CWC19.
The best hat-trick of the day we thought we would be seeing that day in the 3rd T20I against NZ in Pallekale was Dhanushka Gunatilake's 3 consecutive boundaries off of Seth Rance. Boy, could we not have been further away from the truth!
You can never write off hat-tricks nor a thrilling victory when Malinga is in the equation. A score less than 150 had never been defended at Pallekale before, and Malinga and Co. succeeded in bundling away New Zealand to a meagre 88.
As Lasith Malinga shredded through Munro (bowled), Rutherford (lbw), de Gradhomme (bowled) and Ross Taylor (lbw), he also became the first bowler to 100 T20I wickets and now has 5 hat-tricks: the most number of hat-tricks in international cricket.
February 16th, 2019 will always be etched in the memories of Sri Lanka cricket fans for one of the most historic test wins. Kusal Perera up against Kagiso Rabada, the #1 at the time, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, both who had once secured the #1 Test Bowler status on the planet before, Keshav Maharaj and Duanne Oliver, led Sri Lanka to a nail-biting one-wicket win over South Africa. The way Kusal Perera weaved his innings, run by one, and then brushing away fiesty bowlers like Dale Steyn over the boundaries was simply enchanting to watch, and to taste victory again, especially one that comes after defeating the home side in their own den, was too good to be true.
Needless to say, it had the entire cricketing world talking.
Am inexperienced, young squad put up against the number one T20 side in the world. Who would have expected the Sri Lankan youngsters to put on such an amazing show, especially coming off of two straight ODI defeats?!
After ten years, international cricket returned to Pakistan, and with a team of fresh faces, no one could have anticipated the thumping they received not once, not twice, but all three matches, showcasing the potential the young cricketers possess, promising a lot for the future.
Sri Lanka in the 2nd T2oI recorded the highest total against Pakistan in Pakistan 182/6, and each match was a convincing victory against the hosts, leaving no room for anyone to call it a fluke or whatnot. What was also brilliant was the chemistry this team had, the trust they had placed in each other, and every single time when one failed, there was always another to rise up to the occasion and have his back, and their fielding was certainly top-notch. History had been made.
Although we could not see him play for one last time, seeing Nuwan Kulasekara in the fray of a match again, was so bittersweet. For most fans it was heartbreaking to see a legend of the game, one who had contributed to the winning of so many matches, who was part of the 2011 WC Runners' Up Team and the 2014 T20 WC winners, watching the match from the stands, instead of being out there in the middle, almost sauntering in with a vicious ferocity only he could pull off, deceiving the batsman by swinging the ball. Yet, that was not to be the case, nevertheless, it was a magical moment, a nostalgic moment, and one unforgettable, and the convincing victory and the series win against Bangladesh made it that much better.
Of course, a most interesting component, the memes! One thing former President Maithreepala Sirisena and Kusal Mendis have in common is that they never fail to produce meme material. Constantly at it, we cannot forget One Where His High Five Was Ignored, the One Where He Fell From A Bike In The Middle Of The Ground, and so many, many more.
Sri Lanka Cricket certainly shows a lot of promise, and we hope the new decade will bring out a golden era of cricket in Sri Lanka. We will not stop believing, and neither should you.
What were your favourite moments in 2019? Tell us in the comments below!
කොරෝනා කාලෙන් පස්සෙ තියන මුල්ම ලොකු ඉවෙන්ට් එක!
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