Gecko Sixes Charity Cricket Tournament 2016

The recent upturn in the weather has our minds wandering to summer and cricket fields, and of course, our favourite annual sporting contest, the Gecko Sixes. After a disappointing show by the Sri Lankan team in the T20 World Cup, and a tough tour of England about to start, perhaps it’s time to show the pros how it’s done. Well, dust off your bats, stretch out that bowling action, and come along!

Date: Saturday 13th August, 11am – 5pm

Venue: Victoria Recreation Ground, Balaclava Road, Surbiton, London, KT6 5JL

For those who haven’t come before, the Gecko Sixes is a fun-filled day of soft-ball cricket for literally everyone – from seasoned pros to complete beginners. It’s £10 to play, with all proceeds going to charity. Each team is comprised of six people, but even if you don’t have a ready-made team, just come along and we can sort out the teams on the day. We want girls to get involved too, so girls score double runs. Matches are 5 overs per innings; it’s all action cricket! Aside from the cricket, there’ll be plenty of snacks and refreshments, including delicious Sri Lankan favourites like mutton rolls and samosas!

Here’s our video of the action from last year. We can’t wait – see you there!

Visit our Facebook Event page here and click attending to get more updates about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1767963153426305/ 

 

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Gecko Pub Quiz 2016

2016 Pub Quiz PosterBy Ashan

As per Gecko tradition, once more we see off another -Sri Lankan- year with our infamous Gecko Pub Quiz 2016! (SL NYE: April 13th, fun fact for future quizzes)

On a typically cold February Sunday, Gecko Sri Lanka welcomed our guests into the Railway Tavern for our warm company, warmer food, and hot as hellfire pub quiz. Six rounds, eight questions each.

For those who couldn’t make it, here is just a little taster of what you were missing out on:

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tim-peake-space-selfie1)Science & Technology: What is happening in this photo?

2) Sport: Who was the highest run scorer for Sri Lanka in tests for 2015?

3)  Geography: List these UK cities in order from East to West? A) Liverpool, B) Edinburgh, C) Carlisle, D) Manchester

4) TV & Film:Romesh Ranganathan hosted a BBC comedy show in Sri Lanka – what was it called?

5) Which protest of December 16, 1773 was the catalyst for the American Revolutionary War?

6) Music: What song is being described in this video? (from our international correspondent and well known gecko, Hemita!)
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Once more, our own Denesh Srikantharajah kept the evening lively with his easy-going, Dermot O’Leary-style of hosting. As quizmaster he brought back the classic bonus rounds, such as the loveable “Heads or Tails” and our quick fire round.

When all said and done, we collected the answers, counted the points, and in the end it was Madu’s team who won by a point! Team “Ross Geller” (named due to their married couples… and one guy called Ross) got to walk home with their heads held high, beaming with pride… and cinema vouchers!

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Thanks again to everyone who attended, not just for making it another fun filled night, but for helping us raise £465 for charity! We hope to see you all next year for more brain teasing questions  and fun-filled bonus rounds!

 

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Answers: (1) Selfie from space, (2) Dinesh Chandimal, (3) D-C-A-B , (4) Asian Provocateur, (5) The Boston Tea Party, (6) Black Magic by Little Mix!

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Gecko Pub Quiz: What You Need to Know

By Madura

The Essentials
Venue:
Railway Tavern, 15 Liverpool St, London EC2M 7NX
Time: 6.30pm – 9pm (approx)
Entry£10/person
Food & drinkCan be purchased from the bar

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It’s just under one month till we once again sharpen our pencils, brush up on our general knowledge and pack into the homely upstairs of the Railway Tavern for an evening of heated deliberation, whispered collaboration and haughty chuckles.

The Gecko Pub Quiz will return to our favourite pub in Liverpool street on Sunday 21st February. The quiz will begin sharp at 6.30pm, with entrance costing a cool £10 – with all proceeds going towards charity. Come along with teams of 7 or under, or cobble together a team on the day, and make some new friends while you’re at it!

This years quiz promises to just as fiendish and funny as the last, with 6 rounds covering Science to Sport and Music to Movies. As always each round will be broken up by our trademark bonus rounds, each offering a slightly different challenge to those found at your typical pub quiz.

If you have any questions, please post them on our facebook page, and one of our admins will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks a lot, we look forward to seeing you soon!

The Gecko Committee

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Mental Health in Sri Lanka

By João

“Shame, guilt, humiliation. I do not want to go through it all. Better if I just stay indoors. Away from everything and everyone. It feels so oppressing, as if all April’s heat has entered my body, and the monsoon will never come to release me from this heaviness. I feel suffocated. Eventually, things will get better, this weight will be lifted off my shoulders. Or maybe not, and I’ll just stay here, on my own, waiting for some help which will never come”.

Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, mental health problems. For many, concepts difficult to put into words – they are not like a visible bruise you can see on your skin, a broken bone causing agonising pain, or a nagging migraine which just won’t go away. Yet health problems affecting our psychological and emotional well-being are as real and tangible as any physical illness, affecting the lives of millions across the world.

The story in Sri Lanka is no different. Despite demonstrating an enormous resilience towards adversity, the country’s recent history of conflict and natural disasters has left profound scars in its population. Thousands of Sri Lankans are thought to experience mental health problems, yet help and support is not always available, particularly for those living in more remote communities away from the capital and coastal regions.

Over the past few years significant efforts have been made to improve mental health care practice across the island. Numbers of health care staff trained in psychiatric skills does however remain low, particularly of those combining mental health and community work training.

Together with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) located in Angoda, and the University of Kelanya, Unity in Health has embarked on a small yet ambitious plan to train more community mental health nurses in the country – professionals who can support those who suffer alone and in silence, and bring much needed treatment and above all hope where none seems to be left.

The course consists of a Higher Diploma in Community Mental Health Nursing, to be offered to approximately 50 to 60 general nurses (numbers to be confirmed) currently working in hospitals across the island. For a period of three months and with the support of both UK trained health care volunteers and local lecturers, students will be encouraged to broaden their knowledge on mental illness and related care, community based support, and to engage in practical placements across different settings currently operating in Sri Lanka. Ultimately, it is hoped that the availability of more trained nurses in community mental health care will stimulate the creation of much needed multidisciplinary, community based health care teams particularly in regions where these are currently non-existent. In essence, our final aim is to bring professional care and support to those most forgotten and ignored.

We would not be able to deliver this without the help of others. The support and enthusiasm of Gecko and all its friends is immensely appreciated by us all – you are helping to make this a reality, and for that we are all very grateful.

We would be delighted to see you in Sri Lanka whilst delivering the programme, so if you happen to be around later in the year, do let us know – it will be a pleasure to share our experiences with you all.

Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer who died earlier in April of this year, has a wonderful quote with which we could not agree more:

“I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.”

On behalf of all future nurses to be trained and from our team, once again thanks a million to all “Geckos”!

We hope to see you soon,

João

Unity in Health

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Staff at the National Institute of Mental Health, having a break under a tree, January 2015

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Gecko Sixes 2015: The Legend Continues

By Denesh

8.33am. It’s Saturday morning. But not just any Saturday morning … no, it’s the morning of Gecko Sixes. So just like a child on Christmas Day, I leap out of bed with giddy excitement and immediately look outside the window, only this time praying for sun and not snow.

As we pull up to the Victoria Recreation Ground at Surbiton, the excitement builds. The sight of the vast open space and the smell of freshly cut grass bring into focus what we’re here for: a fun-filled day of soft-ball cricket played out on the backdrop of friendly banter and good-spirited competition, all in the name of charity. This is our eighth edition of Gecko Sixes, and it’s due to be bigger and better than ever.

And so we start setting up, plotting the boundaries that will provide the barriers to success and the gazebo that will shelter the delicious food that will soon line our stomachs. A quick look up to the sky – the magic of the Sixes continues to defy the poor forecast. Perfect.

The first teams begin to arrive, and not even train delays can prevent them making their way to the ground. The windballs are out and the bats are picked up from the pavilion with gusto as men, women, boys and girls stride out purposefully simply for a relaxing warm up. With Yasath – one of two vice-presidents of Gecko – leading the troops, the groups are drawn up and the format of the tournament is explained to the eagerly awaiting crowd. 13 teams this year, I see … a magnificent turn out, especially considering the numerous spectators present. I look around the ground to see familiar faces combined with new friends that are experiencing the tournament for the first time. It’s lovely to see the event branching out to new audiences and raising the awareness of the charity.

Okay, it’s time the talking stopped. It’s down to business now. The teams set out to the five pitches around the ground and the scene is set for something special. And then it begins – orange windballs raining down from the sky, the sound of clattering wickets and joyous celebrations. How pleasant to see cricket being played in the spirit of the recent England-New Zealand series rather than what promises to be a spiky Ashes series to come. It’s amazing to see people of different abilities combining in unison to create cricketing magic. The highlight of the group stage surely must be the tied match between teams F and I: the last ball top-edged but spinning beyond the keeper’s grasp to the boundary to send team F into hysterics as they progress as group winners.

So there we have it, four teams progress to the semi-finals. And two unlucky runner-ups led by brothers Wikum and Madu respectively play out an eventful plate final, with the latter coming out on top. Time for a break – and the aunties are doing an incredible job serving the mutton rolls and patties, sandwiches and cake, keeping the crowds happy and well-fed. Oh, someone’s got the frisbee out for a little fun on the side, and the picnic blankets are out with people lounging in the sun that has finally begun to peek out from behind the clouds. Excellent.

Unfortunately this is where my team meets its end, with an exciting low-scoring game deservedly swaying in Team Manthi’s favour. In the other semi final, Team Sam beats Team Ham, despite the batting efforts of the excellently nicknamed Joe “School of Hard” Knox. Two first-time finalists, a brilliant advert for the tournament. Terrific.

And there we have it. It all comes down to this – the sun timing its entrance perfectly as it floods the grounds in glorious sunshine. And the tone for the final is set from the very first ball, a magnificent one-handed catch on the boundary by Heshan sending the crowd into raptures and leaving Jonny deflated, having batted exquisitely throughout the tournament. With a score of 28 to chase, captain Manthi and the stylish Shiraz set about their task with ruthless efficiency, carrying their team to victory. Handshakes all round, with gracious winners and sporting runners-up – what more could you ask for?

And that’s all folks – the medals are presented to the victors and special thanks to Yasath, who was the organiser-in-chief, as well as Madu, president of Gecko. And of course the final word belongs to Unity in Health, the charity organisation to which we are donating all proceeds from this year’s event. They are setting up a diploma for community psychiatric nursing in rural Sri Lanka, targeting an area of health that is often overlooked and poorly funded in the country. A wonderful project to match a wonderful event.

So as the crowds disperse, I look up to the sky – and it starts to pour it down. I could not have timed it better myself. The magic of Gecko Sixes lives on …

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The Gecko Sixes Charity Cricket Tournament 2015: 10 days to go

By Semini

Less than 2 weeks to go till our annual charity cricket tournament which will be held on June 20th at the Victoria Recreation Ground, Surbiton. Registration opens at 11am so grab your friends/family/loved ones/strangers and come join the fun!

Join our Facebook event here.

This is the 8th year we’ve been running the tournament and it goes from strength to strength. We’ve learnt that whilst some of you come for the cricket, a lot of you come for the food and the fun – and we love that!

For those of you that haven’t been, the format is the same every year. You can enter in teams of 6 or come on your own or in smaller groups and we’ll find a team for you. Your team will be entered in the group stages and you’ll play other teams for a chance to go through to the semi-finals and final! Each game has only five overs an innings so each game is short and sweet and allows your team to play a few matches over the course of the day.

This year we will be supporting Unity in Health’s project to strengthen the training of Community Mental Health Nursing in Sri Lanka by development of a new diploma qualification.   All profits from the day, coupled with our hugely successful Pub Quiz in April will be donated towards this honourable work. To find out more about the work of Unity in Health in Sri Lanka, see here.

At this point I would love to give you some tips on the game and how to win the competition… but those of you that know me will know that my sporting prowess is nothing compared to my enthusiasm towards mutton rolls. What I do know is that everybody is welcome – we always have a mixture of abilities and ages; girls even score double runs!

It costs £10 to play and £5 to spectate and is a guaranteed great day out for all. We can’t promise good weather (although we’ve been pretty lucky so far) but we are certain you’ll have an awesome day so come join the fun!

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If you need any more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can find us on facebook or contact Deno on 07515003807.

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Nepal Earthquake Relief

By Yas

Gecko Sri Lanka has donated £200 to The British Red Cross’ Relief project towards the disastrous earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday 25th April. The death toll from the earthquake is currently estimated at 4,356 but is expected to rise. The UN estimates that around 8 million people have been affected, more than a quarter of the country’s population.

Click here to find out more about the British Red Cross Nepal Earthquake Appeal.

Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.

Image from nbcnews.com

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The Gecko Pub Quiz 2015: Review

By Madura & Ashan

On a glorious spring Sunday, guests and Geckos streamed into the Railway Tavern for a challenge like no other. Six rounds, eight questions each, punctuated by a variety of fiendish bonus rounds. For those who couldn’t make it, here is just a little taster of what you were missing out on:

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1) General knowledge: #indyref was tweeted more 3.75 million times on a single day in 2014. What does it stand for?

2) Geography: Put these lakes in descending order of size? A) Huron, B) Victoria, C) Superior, D) Michigan

3) Science & Technology: What is happening in this photo?Google street view of a desert!

4) Sport: Which half Sri Lankan cricketer stunned England in the 2013 Ashes by debuting with 98?

5) TV & Film: What is the most illegally pirated T.V. show?

6) Music: What song is being described in this video? (from our international correspondent and well known gecko, Hemita!)

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IMG_6270Host Denesh Srikantharajah emulated his hero Dermot O’Leary by keeping the night running with his own unique blend of humour and banter. Our quizmaster brought back the classic bonus rounds, reviving the old “Heads or Tails” round where the contestants were be whittled down one coin flick at a time. The lucky victor won herself a point for the team and a pint on the house!

The quick-fire round tested your primary school science as the audience raced to text in the names of the planets in our solar system. Comically the answers still keep rolling in…with the odd one missing planet Earth!

IMG_6269Ultimately it was yet another successful night for charity. We raised £475 for the charity, and enjoyed an evening full of fun and laughs, with unexpected participation from the bar staff singing a snippet of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody! Victory went to Rav Jayasuriya’s team (with an unfortunately inappropriate team name), winning themselves some cinema vouchers.

Thank you again to all who attended and made it such a great night! We wish you all a happy and prosperous Sri Lankan New Year, and hope to see you at our next event, the Gecko Sixes, on Saturday 20th June 2015.

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Answers: (1) Scottish Independence Referendum, (2) C>B>A>D, (3) Google street view of a desert, (4) Ashton Agar, (5) Game of Thrones, (6) Rude by Magic!

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Gecko Quiz Prep!

By Ashan

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s less than a week until the return of the Gecko Sri Lanka Pub Quiz! As your friendly quiz master I’m gonna run through everything you need to know! 10353574_792855950764154_1194002041714705788_nWhere and when?
We’re hosting at the railway tavern again this year, which is just outside of Liverpool Street station (the central line exit is best, but it’s easy to spot from the main McDonalds exit). The quiz starts at 6.30 pm sharp. Why not come down a little early and grab a drink to loosen up some of that knowledge?

data=RfCSdfNZ0LFPrHSm0ublXdzhdrDFhtmHhN1u-gM,jBs_dDYvKMFm6dlrwM1hno3VRLiY3gzPn9E2KnSkTHT7Gym3B9nINdOu-65vk8hnfPo7zxx96gjKCnFUsoZavdvgYrtr3Cc65pHGb-OWBJ6WQG_VSvgFsALRxL751q_RnJQgfqOrMvPsZghttp://www.railwaytavern-whitechapel.co.uk/find-us

What to bring? 
This isn’t an exam – bring all the non-clear pencil cases you want. As with all pub quizzes, there will be a strict ban on googling just about anything – phones are meant for selfies only! Jokes aside, just bring yourself, £10 for charity as entrance, some spare dosh for your own food and drinks, and an eager attitude to win this thing! 394831_476113465771739_1786192457_nWhat to expect?
Fun, laughs, a buzzcocks style intro’s round, and  a general good time for a good cause! I look forward to seeing you all there! 74648_476115339104885_385992003_n P.s. To all the students, enjoy your Easter break (even if it is “study leave”) and good luck with exams! Feel free to come along for a some light heartened ‘revision’.

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Farewell to two cricketing greats: Thank you Mahela and Sanga…

By Yas

And so it wasn’t to be. Sri Lanka’s defeat at the hands of South Africa last week brought the curtain down on their World Cup campaign. A strong Proteas side completely outplayed the Lankans in every department on the day and were deserving victors. While some encouraging batting performances in the group stage, particularly the prolific form of Kumar Sangakkara, had raised hopes of a contest in the knockouts, the Sri Lankans weren’t quite polished enough to progress on this occasion.

It meant a sad end to the one day international cricket for two of Sri Lanka’s greatest cricketers and national icons.  It certainly feels like the glittering careers of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara deserved a showpiece finale, and it will have been galling for many Sri Lankans to see their heroes go out on such a limp note.

While there was no fairytale ending, let’s not forget to celebrate these giants for years of wonderful service to Sri Lankan cricket. I find it hard to imagine watching another game without them. The memories are almost too well engrained in our heads…the majestic cover drives either side of the wicket…the sensational catch at slip or behind the stumps…THAT world record test partnership. These two towers of Sri Lankan cricket have given our country much to be proud of.

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The boy wonder turned leader

Mahela Jayawardene was a cricket front-page boy in Sri Lanka right from his earliest years in international cricket. Prolific in school cricket, in the immediate post-1996 era he was identified early as a future captain of the national side. The talent was obvious, and he tasted early personal successes. However his early career was dogged by inconsistency in both his batting and fielding.  With experience came maturity and nous, and in 2006 Mahela propelled himself and Sri Lanka to new heights. Thrust into the captaincy after an injury to Marvan Attapattu, he led from the front with exceptional batting and captaincy on a run which saw records broken, overseas whitewashes, and a World Cup final appearance in 2007.

The latter half of his career was almost just as impressive, featuring a stunning World Cup final century, a second captaincy stint which breathed new life into a struggling side, and a prolific record opening the batting in cricket’s brave new world of Twenty20.

For me, two things stood out about Jayawardene on the cricket field. First was the artistry and innovation he brought to his batting. No cricket aficionado would label him a “slogger”, yet in Twenty20 cricket he could score runs at a rate comparable to many of the games bit hitters. Time and time again he would unfurl shots that you would probably call a fluke if you’d seen a lesser batsman play it for the first time. Yet when Jayawardene nails the reverse sweep or the deft late cut fine for the umpteenth time you’re not surprised. After his last game he said that “the challenge has been to evolve” in today’s fast moving world of ever-changing rules and formats in international cricket. It’s fair to say he’s overcome that challenge with distinction. Secondly, his masterful proficiency as a tactician stands him out as one of the best captains in the modern era. Rarely taking a defensive approach, it was intriguing watching him move fielders this way and that, plotting with his bowler the next ambush on his unwary victim.

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Image from ESPN Cricinfo

The practitioner who made practice make perfect

Despite being of similar age to Jayawardene, Sangakkara broke into the national side a few years later. Also an aspiring lawyer at the time, his talent was similarly evident from the start. Initially a wicket-keeper batsman in all formats, he was viewed by many as a brash young player with a propensity for the impetuous. In parallel with Jayawardene, his game became more polished with maturity and experience. In 2007, when he shelved the wicketkeeping gloves in test cricket, a very good batsman  became a world class batsman. After that, he went interstellar.

The numbers are quite mind boggling- look on Cricinfo for yourself. Even at the age of 37 in his final ODI tournament he was making batting and wicket-keeping records tumble in this World Cup. Four centuries in four consecutive games was a first in the World Cup and was the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s batting efforts.  Consistency has become second nature to him, and he has delivered under pressure in all formats of international cricket. Sangakkara is undoubtedly a  modern legend of cricket and must rank amongst some of the best batsmen of all time.

His success has come as a result of copious training, preparation and attention to detail. It is well known in the Sri Lankan dressing room that if Sanga gets out cheaply, the coaches will be out of luck as they will face an entire day of throw-downs in the nets.  A determined warrior with an exemplary work ethic, coupled with prodigious talent, his success is perhaps not so surprising.

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Image from ESPN Cricinfo

Inspiration for the nation

Great cricketers come and go, but there are few who capture the hearts and minds of their countrymen and cricket lovers alike the way “Maiya” and Sanga have. It is perhaps their off field demeanour and exploits that have set them apart. Publicly at the forefront of charitable causes, they have both spoken of harnessing the spirit of cricket to build broken and divided communities in Sri Lanka. Mahela repeatedly speaks of feeling humbled on a relief mission to the war torn areas of Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami when rebel soldiers from the LTTE would speak to him with great passion for the exploits of the national team. Sangakkara’s stirring “Spirit of Cricket” lecture in 2011 touched the hearts of millions as he told the story of Sri Lankan cricket like an epic novel, speaking openly about where he felt it’s controlling powers had let down his nation’s sporting love, and the code by which he would play for “his people”:  “ My loyalty will be to the ordinary Sri Lankan fan…Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for a common national cause…. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket…I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. But above all, today, and always, I will be proudly Sri Lankan.”

There are too many memorable Mahela-Sanga moments to recount, but my personal favourite comes in a perhaps not so well known match in 2012 shown in the video below. Sri Lanka are playing Australia in a one day international in Melbourne in the Tri Series tournament also featuring India. They have only a few days earlier fluffed a chance of qualifying for the finals by failing to defend 320 after Virat Kohli smashed them all around Hobart and are faced with a do-or-die clash with the Aussies. They post 238, a fighting but underwhelming score. Sangakkara scores 64, supported by further fifties from Chandimal and Thirimanne. Sri Lanka lose Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera to injury early in their bowling effort. Mahela, a month into his second spell as Sri Lanka’s captain has a steep task ahead of him. He leads a determined fielding effort and Sri Lanka haul themselves back into contention. At critical junctures, he throws the ball to Lasith Malinga, ignoring his pasting by Kohli a few days earlier and trusts his star bowler’s match winning ability. Malinga takes 4 wickets and Sri Lanka are closing in, but David Hussey is steering Australia through choppy waters too. 10 needed from the last over with 1 wicket remaining. Kulasekara to Hussey…hit aerial flat down to long on…Dilshan is under it…and takes the catch! The Sri Lankan-strong crowd goes berserk. The camera initially cuts to Kulasekara exalting flat on the floor, then to a beaming Mahela knelt down. His smile is cut from view as he is mobbed by a Sangakkara rugby tackle.  The two friends then rush to the boundary to join their comrades as echoes of lion roars bellow through the night.

 

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