2023 Asia Cup: Travel guide to Sri Lanka, through the eyes of a cricket fan

Sri Lanka, as a nation, has encountered a diverse range of trials and accomplishments. This naturally enchanting country possesses breathtaking landscapes and abundant resources. Yet, it has also endured a distressing Civil War that claimed the lives of thousands before concluding in 2009. In 2004, a catastrophic tsunami wreaked havoc across various parts of Asia, causing immeasurable devastation. Just last year, a severe economic crisis swept through the nation, leading to soaring prices of basic necessities. From gas stations to supermarkets, essential supplies became scarce, requiring the resilient citizens to tap into their seemingly boundless reservoir of inner strength. Remarkably, they responded with their trademark stoicism. Thankfully, their patience has been rewarded, and today, Sri Lanka cautiously embarks on a journey filled with hope and optimism. The primary industry, tourism, is witnessing a noticeable resurgence.

Throughout these trials, the ordinary Sri Lankan never forgot the art of smiling or expressing gratitude for whatever they possessed, whether it was tangible material wealth or intangible blessings. There\’s a profound lesson to be gleaned from their unwavering equanimity and composure, the genuine warmth they extend in welcoming others, and their willingness to go to great lengths to ensure the comfort and well-being of their guests.

This time last year, when the nation was grappling with the aftermath of the economic crisis that followed the conclusion of the Civil War, the Sri Lankan cricket team emerged as a symbol of hope, providing moments of joy and illumination amidst life\’s challenges. Under the leadership of Dasun Shanaka, who embodies the quintessential Sri Lankan qualities of humility and affability, they left an indelible mark on the T20 Asia Cup held in the UAE. Many had expected cricket powerhouses like India and Pakistan to dominate the tournament, with one of them presumed to secure the ultimate honors. However, Sri Lanka quietly emerged from the shadows, defying expectations, and achieved a remarkable victory in the final against Pakistan in Dubai. Few sporting triumphs have been as universally celebrated.

Sri Lanka had been designated to host the Asia Cup last year as part of the tournament\’s rotational policy. Despite still grappling with the economic crisis, there was hope, as Australia had recently completed a comprehensive tour of the island nation. Anticipation swirled that the Asia Cup would also unfold in Sri Lanka. However, the nation felt unprepared to concurrently host half a dozen teams and couldn\’t assure a seamless, trouble-free event. Consequently, the tournament was shifted to the Emirates. Sri Lanka\’s opportunity to host the Asia Cup would arrive, but it was not destined for 2022.

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