Kochi: Midway in the first session, on Saturday, a rather nasty placard surfaced at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium: 'Goodbye John (Wright)... What about (a picture of Sourav Ganguly)...'
It's unclear whether the Team India captain saw that flashed on the TV, but cricketer-turned-politician Arjuna Ranatunga didn't miss it.
'We know that Sourav has been having a tough time, but he needs to keep his self-belief intact and the Indian public must continue believing in him,' Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup-winning captain told The Telegraph.
Interacting briefly during the lunch break, Ranatunga added: 'Sourav has served India very well and I'm convinced one innings will help him regain confidence... Often, when form is lost, just one outing can cancel out acts of omission.'
Ranatunga's sentiments should make Sourav, who failed yet again, feel better.
In town as the guest of a premier publication, Ranatunga welcomed Sri Lanka Cricket's (SLC's) takeover by the government. Incidentally, he is himself the deputy minister for industry, tourism and investment promotions.
'My view is that SLC ought to have been disbanded two years ago... Anyway, the mafia's hold has ended... Had this been done earlier, millions wouldn't have been wasted as questionable expenditure,' he pointed out.
Asked whether he would now get involved with SLC, Ranatunga answered smiling: 'I've got quite a few things on my plate, but if the interim body wants my help, I may associate purely with cricket matters... General administration, for example, is out...'
Ranatunga, who was hospitalised for three days earlier this year on account of 'high blood pressure,' looked fitter than when one last saw him ' the July-August 2004 Asia Cup.
'Actually, I've become regular with workouts and that's definitely making a difference,' he signed off, rushing to his VIP seat. 'I have to, otherwise, somebody is going to usurp it,' he quipped.
Ranatunga, by the way, confirmed his ministry will 'utilise' Muttiah Muralidharan's popularity in India to promote Sri Lankan tourism in an even bigger way.
To begin with, some of the northern cities are going to be on the star offie's India-itinerary. The dates, though, haven't been finalised.