26 January, 2021

United In Victory

The civil war takes a backseat as Ranatunga brings home the Cup

United In Victory
DESERTED streets, shops with downed shutters and heavily manned police checkpoints are a familiar sight in '90s Colombo. But on the afternoon of March 17,there was a distinct air of expectancy amidst the curfew-like conditions as military personnel checking vehicles for Tamil separatists seemed more interested in interrogating drivers about cricket scores. For once, the 12-year-old civil war had taken a backseat as 18 million cricket-crazy Lankans sat glued to their TV and radio sets to follow their team's fortunes in faraway Lahore.

As skipper Arjuna Ranatunga scored the winning boundary around 10.45 pm, the entire nation erupted in celebrations. Thousands of people filled the hitherto empty streets, waving flags and singing the national anthem and lighting tens of thousands of firecrackers. The next morning the Island newspaper summed up national sentiment with its banner headline: "Sri Lankans World Conquerors."

The morning after there was more cause for celebration as the conquering heroes arrived with the World Cup. The 20-mile drive from the...



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