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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hambantota in news - first about the Cricket Stadium

This place has been in news and now more because of the commercial activity -  it has a stadium established in 2009 and having Ends named as :  Thanamalwila End, Sooriyawewa End.  Now in July when India tours Lanka, this ground would host the first two One dayers.  It is the - Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium at Hambantota, Sri Lanka.

It is tough understanding the war-torn country’s economic progress; in 2011 3 of Sri Lanka's international venues, including the newly built stadiums in Pallekele and Hambantota, were handed over to the military indefinitely. It was a move that came when Lankan cricket was battling costs on several fronts.  At that time, the  R Premadasa stadium in Colombo - redeveloped for the World Cup was taken by the air force; Navy took over  the Pallekele Stadium, near Kandy, while the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota went to the army.  The World Cup had left Sri Lanka Cricket in debt to the tune of $23 million thanks to cost overruns and heavy expenses incurred in building the stadiums, and the board had to ask for a grant from the Sri Lanka government. The board could not pay  some of its players since the tournament.

When the schedule for the 2011 World Cup was announced, eyebrows were raised about two of the venues in Sri Lanka that were allotted matches. The venues in question were Hambantota in the South and Pallakele in the Central Province. The third venue was, as expected, the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.   The two new venues got the nod ahead of  renowned stadiums as Galle, Asgiriya, Dambulla and SSC. 

Though on the other end of Sri Lanka, it is not exactly closer to Colombo – the stadium arose in a remote place, more out of political will rather than commercial interest.  The playing field was made  deliberately large - apparently with other sports in mind.  The town of Hambantota is in the south of Lanka and its economy is essentially agriculture-based: paddy-milling, fruits and vegetables the big earners as well as a developed fishing culture. With lot of effort it has been transformed in to a  leading economic trading hub in South Asia.  It has the potential and perhaps a couple of decade since, would be more heard as a prominent Port – while the speed of construction is appreciable, the active involvement of Chinese in development and construction is a matter of concern for India.  More of the Port in my next post………………….

Before we conclude, there is growing influence of China on this part of the World. Just see this photo - courtesy [not a latest one though - probably during the construction time]; it is a 'safety warning' - what is interesting is, it is in 3 languages - the Mandarin of the Chinese, English and of course Sinhalese

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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