It won't be a disgrace if Sri Lanka lose

Blog Opinion

A Sri Lankan Superfan previews the World Twenty20 final between his nation and the West Indies on Sunday.

The West Indies on paper, at least from a batting stand point, look formidable but can they turn it on, especially on a turning track? Even from a spin point of view with Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree, the West Indians are far more potent than the Australians would have been. We have got to bat better and catch better and bowl as well as we did against Pakistan if are to challenge them on Sunday.

As for Sri Lanka, I said to a bunch of friends before the start of the semi-final against Pakistan that Sri Lanka will officially and inevitably be anointed as the chokers of World Cup semi-finals/finals should they lose to Pakistan, or fail to cross the final hurdle on Sunday.

However, a part of me was wondering whether I was being too harsh. True, my greatest sporting hero or hero of any kind, Michael Jordan, was/is the greatest winner the sports world had ever seen or possibly will ever see.

Even at age 35 he gave the world of sports a finals performance for the ages in the summer of 1998, delivering again under pressure and in the clutch and gave millions of his fans around the world, and that of his team, the joy of yet another championship, 6th to be precise.

So yes, I could say that I grew up watching and idolizing a man for whom winning was the only option and that quickly became the mindset of his fans too. I admit that since his retirement my attention slowly but surely turned back to cricket, and since then I have been forced to get use to something that I was never use to before: losing the big games and failing at the crunch under pressure when it matters the most.

But then I look closely and realise that Sri Lanka have nowhere near the numbers financially, talent-wise or otherwise or the facilities of say a powerhouse like India and at the same time they also don't have an endless talent pool that keep churning out mercurial cricketers on a regular basis like Pakistan.

Since the debut of Kumar Sangakkara in 2000 we are yet to unearth a quality Test batsman. Since Chaminda Vaas, we have also not been able to unearth a quality Test fast bowler.

Despite a plethora of limitations, handicaps and the lack of a Superstar line up 1 through 7, Sri Lanka have still managed to make the final of four of the last six World Cups or the Semi-final stage in five of the last six World cups. For a small nation of 20 million with acutely limited resources, that is an incredible achievement.

India, the power house in World Cricket with an endless supply of just about everything that teams like Sri Lanka can only dream of, took 24 years to win their second World Cup (in 2007) after Kapil Dev's men won it in 1983.

Pakistan, a nation that is home to an unending supply of bowling talent, took 17 years to win their second World Cup (in 2009) after Imran lead them to cricket's mountain top in 1992.

As for Sri Lanka, it's been 16 years since Arjuna Ranatunga's boys took the world by storm in 1996 and even if they fail on Sunday to win their second major title, it's not the end of the world or a travesty, considering how long our more talented and blessed neighbours took to win their respective follow-ups.

For now I, like 20 million other Sri Lankans around the world, will bask in the glory of what has been nothing short of a phenomenal run of performances in World Cups by our boys.

At some point we will win our second title, maybe in Colombo on Sunday, maybe in Dhaka in 2014 or maybe at the MCG (little Colombo) in 2015. It will happen and rest assured it won't take 24 years.

<b>Shoaib Mohamed</b>