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Why Sri Lankan Cricketers Wear Black Armbands in India vs Sri Lanka Cricket World Cup Match

Sri Lankan cricket team pays tribute to beloved 'superfan' Percy Abeysekera by wearing armbands during World Cup match against India.

The Sri Lankan cricket team, in a heartwarming gesture, paid tribute to the late Percy Abeysekera, a beloved figure known as the 'legendary cheerleader' and 'superfan', during their ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match against India. Abeysekera, affectionately called 'Uncle Percy', recently passed away at the age of 87 after battling illness for a long time. Since the 1979 World Cup, he had been a constant presence at almost all of Sri Lanka's matches, but it was during the 1996 World Cup, which Sri Lanka co-hosted, that he gained widespread recognition.

Percy Abeysekera was renowned for his passionate support of the Sri Lankan cricket team. He would wave a large Sri Lankan flag during matches, offering encouragement to players by patting them on the back, and even accompanying them to and from the dressing room.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) released an official statement announcing that the Sri Lankan players would wear black armbands during the match against India to honor the late Percy Abeysekera, the legendary cheerleader. The statement emphasized Abeysekera's integral role in supporting and motivating the players from beyond the boundary line, highlighting his lasting legacy in both Sri Lanka's pre- and post-Test eras.

Indian captain Rohit Sharma shared his memories of meeting Percy Abeysekera during the recent Asia Cup, where he visited Abeysekera's home in Colombo. Rohit expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to meet such a genuine cricket fan and admired Abeysekera's unwavering support for his team and players.

Rohit reminisced about his first visit to Sri Lanka during the 2006 U-19 World Cup, where he encountered Abeysekera but didn't fully grasp the significance of his presence at the time. It was during a tour with the Indian senior team in 2008 that Rohit truly understood the passion and dedication of 'Uncle Percy'. He also had the chance to meet Abeysekera's family, describing them as sweet and mentioning that he went with some of his teammates as well.

The Indian skipper expressed his sadness at the loss of Percy Abeysekera, considering him the number one supporter of cricket at that time. He acknowledged that while there are now many fans, Abeysekera was the first cricket fan he encountered and his passing is a somber moment for all.

The match between India and Sri Lanka took place at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 2. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to field first. Despite a shaky start, India managed to recover and reach a score of 126-1 after 21 overs.

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