Asia Cup win lifts spirits of battered Sri Lanka
Dasun Shanaka-led Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup tournament in the shortest form of cricket in Dubai on Sunday, the South Asian nation burst into spontaneous celebrations.
At the seaside Galle Face promenade in the capital, where the competition was shown live on a huge screen, supporters danced, automobiles honked, and fire crackers burst.
“This is a super surprise,” said Mohamed Thimal, 24, who watched the game at Galle Face. “We didn’t expect a win because we have not won a tournament recently.”
“Very happy, very happy,” shouted Jameel Irshad, who was celebrating with friends at Galle Face, which until July was the launch pad for toppling president Gotabaya Rajapaksa over economic mismanagement.
After running out of foreign exchange to pay for imports since late last year, the nation is currently experiencing hyperinflation, protracted power outages, and severe shortages of food, fuel, and medications.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Rajapaksa’s successor, was one of the first to congratulate the squad.
Now, that’s how champions celebrate! 🎉https://t.co/ruP7lLtgnH!
— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) September 11, 2022
“The President expressed his heartfelt thanks to all those who dedicated themselves for this great victory. Despite the grave challenges Sri Lanka is currently facing,” his office said in a statement.
Government employee Prathana Weerasinghe noted that Sunday’s cricket win came hours after Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup in women’s netball at a tournament in Singapore.
“A very, very proud day! Girls did earlier today and now boys. Wow, What else? Happiest day in years,” Weerasinghe told AFP.
As the nation celebrated the rare sporting victory, Hemalatha Tillakaratne, 72, expressed her concern that the government may enact price increases.
“Today they didn’t impose the power cut because of the match, but they will start the blackouts again from tomorrow. They could also use this win to increase prices from tomorrow,” Tillakaratne said.
Another supporter, 42-year-old Krishani Athauda, said the $200,000 prize money made the victory all the more sweeter. Because Sri Lanka is currently scrambling to get foreign currency to pay for necessities.
“We are happy that we won the (cricket) Asia Cup despite the economic crisis,” Athauda said. “At a time when people are suffering, this is a relief.”