Sri Lanka Cricket and Mahinda Rajapaksa International stadium officials face an unusual problem ahead of the three ODIs to be played at the venue between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe – elephants.
The stadium, which holds 35,000 people and is next to an elephant sanctuary in Hambantota has occasionally seen wild elephants stray onto the field at night, according to a stadium official. The unnamed official, told news wire AFP, “There had been a few instances when elephants broke through the fence and invaded the pitch at night. A jungle patch starts about 100 metres from the stadium and we are deploying 10 wardens to make sure that fans don’t stray into that area and provoke the elephants.”
He also mentioned that a herd of 25 elephants, about 240 kilometers south of Colombo posed a potential threat to fans. Hambantota has also seen problems caused by wasps previously. Though the stadium was built in 2009 and was one of the venues for the 2011 cricket World Cup, it has seen very few matches being played because of how remote the location is and high maintenance costs. The last ODI to be played there was about two years back.
Having been recently renovated, the venue is set to host the three ODIs between hosts Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe on July 6th, 8th and 10th. These matches will determine the winner of the series, with both teams having won one match each so far. Zimbabwe will go into the matches confident of putting up a good show and getting positive results, and we are sure to see a good contest – barring any intrusions by elephants of course!