Fitting farewell for Sangakkara and Jayawardene as it canters to a six-wicket win over India
At last, it is Sri Lanka’s hour. After all those big finals, those near-misses and all that grief, there is another trophy in the cabinet. It is India’s turn, instead, to silently wear a silver medal and wonder what might have been. At the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here on Sunday, Sri Lanka put all its troubled recent final history behind to win the ICC World Twenty20, edging India by six wickets in the final.
Chasing 131 for victory, Lasith Malinga’s men sailed home with 13 balls to spare, delivering the side its first independent trophy in a global event in 18 years. There was the Champions Trophy of 2002, but that title had been shared with India. Sri Lanka has, since, entered the semifinals of seven major tournaments without success.
Kumar Sangakkara served his country one last time in T20 cricket, making a splendid, unbeaten 52 (35b) when the innings was at risk of crumbling. Thisara Perera gave him company at the end, striking the winning blow off Ashwin as Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were hoisted on the shoulders of their team-mates.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers had done well to restrict India to 130, man-of-the-tournament Virat Kohli’s 58-ball-77 its only highlight.
In pursuit of the target, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera early, the left-hander top-edging Mohit Sharma’s first ball for five. Tillakaratne Dilshan struck a couple of boundaries but was removed by R. Ashwin when the mood had started turning a little dark for India. Jayawardene, in his last international T20 appearance, treated his fans to one little cameo of 24 but was dismissed in rather soft fashion by Suresh Raina. When Lahiru Thirimanne followed him swiftly, Sri Lanka may have worried briefly.
But Sangakkara would not be beaten. Ravindra Jadeja was swept to the square leg boundary and immediately dispatched over deep midwicket. Things duly unravelled for India in the 15th over, bowled by Mishra, when Perera — replacing Seekkuge Prasanna in the side — thumped a six as Sri Lanka garnered 14 runs.
Sangakkara brought up his fifty off 33 balls, with successive boundaries off Ashwin. After ending up on the losing side in four finals in the last seven years, it was some swansong.
After a prolonged shower had delayed the start of play by 40 minutes, Sri Lanka won the toss and inserted India in to bat. The Indian innings did not exactly take off like a rocket out of Thumba, but this probably had as much to do with the pitch as Sri Lanka’s bowling.
Ajinkya Rahane was out within minutes, edging Angelo Mathews onto the stumps. India had managed only 15 off four overs before a slight upward revision in the run rate. It wasn’t unrelated, of course, that Kohli had arrived on the scene.
He could have been dismissed on 11, pulling Rangana Herath’s first ball to mid-wicket, but Lasith Malinga dropped a catch he would expect to take most times.
As if to rub it in, later that same over, Kohli stepped out and smacked the bowler over long-off. Rohit Sharma and he stitched together a useful partnership of 60 (54b), broken when the former drove Herath tamely into the hands of cover.
Kohli steadily found his range. Herath was struck over the sightscreen and Senanayake witheringly driven through extra-cover. Kohli raised his fifty off 43 balls, a fourth half-century in five games. Nuwan Kulasekara too suffered at his mighty hands, conceding 16 runs in the 16th over.
The issue with India’s innings was that a sustained period of dominance was never established; Sri Lanka always found a foothold whenever the batsmen appeared to run away with it.
When India, with eight wickets in store, would have expected to soar away, it was firmly bound up and cast into the cellar. Only 19 runs came off the last four overs; it didn’t help, of course, that Malinga bowled two of these.
Yuvraj Singh will have been disappointed with his effort in this spell of play, when he made 11 off 21 balls. Kohli only faced eight deliveries in the last four overs as India finished on 130 for four, and Sri Lanka would soon find another ‘World Cup’ to sit alongside its prize from 1996.
India: Rohit Sharma c Senanayake b Herath 29 (26b, 3x4), Ajinkya Rahane b Mathews 3 (8b), Virat Kohli run
out 77 (58b, 5x4, 4x6), Yuvraj Singh c Thisara b Kulasekara 11 (21b), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 4 (7b); Extras (b-2,
lb-2, w-2): 6; Total (for four wickets in 20 overs): 130.
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Rahane), 2-64 (Rohit), 3-119 (Yuvraj), 4-130 (Kohli).
Sri Lanka bowling: Kulasekara 4-0-29-1, Mathews 4-0-25-1, Senanayake 4-0-22-0, Malinga 4-0-27-0, Herath 4-0-23-1
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera c Jadeja b Mohit 5 (7b, 1x4), Tillakaratne Dilshan c Kohli b Ashwin 18 (16b, 4x4), Mahela Jayawardene c Ashwin b Raina 24 (24b, 4x4), Kumar Sangakkara not out 52 (35b, 6x4, 1x6), Lahiru Thirimanne c Dhoni b Mishra 7 (11b, 1x4), Thisara Perera not out 21 (14b, 1x4, 2x6); Extras (lb-2, w-3): 5; Total (for four wickets in 17.5): 132.
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Kusal), 2-41 (Dilshan), 3-65 (Jayawardene), 4-78 (Thirimanne). India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 3-0-18-0, Mohit 2-0-18-1, Ashwin 3.5-0-27-1, Mishra 4-0-32-1, Raina 4-0-24-1, Jadeja 1-0-11-0.