CLASS OF 2014: Members of the victorious Sri Lanka cricket team celebrate with the ICC World Twenty20 trophy at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. The Lankans won the final against India by six wickets. Photo: FIROZ AHMED
Old sayings do not always come true, history cannot repeat itself again and again and Sri Lanka proved it at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur last night.
The saying that dropped catches lose matches was proved wrong as Lasith Malinga was eventually not punished and the Lankans emerged from their painful legacy of losing global finals with a comprehensive six-wicket victory over India to clinch the ICC World Twenty20 title; their first global success since the famous 1996 50-over World Cup victory.
It was the night for the Lankans to put aside all their pain, agony and frustration surrounding the lack of success in global events and they broke the long jinx in style by shattering MS Dhoni's dream of completing the limited-overs treble and also avenged their 2011 World Cup final defeat at Mumbai.
Stand-in Sri Lanka skipper Malinga not only led his side to bring a long overdue -- this was their fifth ICC global trophy final since the 2007 World Cup -- smile on the faces of the islanders but also gave a fitting farewell to his team's two stalwarts Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayewardene.
And nothing could have been better than the way Sangakkara made the occasion memorable for him and his friend as Mr. Dependable dispatched any Indian threat in his last T20I appearance to overtake India's 130 with 13 balls remaining. True Indian bowling was at its peak before the final but they had little to do in defence of 130 runs.
SAVED THE BEST FOR THE LAST: Kumar Sangakkara leaps into the air after leading Sri Lanka to a six-wicket win over India in the ICC World T20 final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. Photo: AFP
Sri Lanka stuttered at the start of the chase as Kusal Perera was caught in the second over off Mohit Sharma. Jayawardene then came in and scored a classy 24, during which Tillakaratne Dilshan departed for 18 with the score on 41. The legends Sangakkara and Jayawardene carried the score to 65 before the latter was caught at midwicket. After Lahiru Thirimanne's quick exit, Sangakkara built an unbeaten 66-run partnership with Thisara Perera, himself finishing on an unbeaten 35-ball 52, and taking the side home amid fireworks and celebrations.
In the first session talk centred on how costly it was going to be after Malinga could not take a catch at midwicket to send back danger man and man-of-the-tournament Virat Kohli, on 11 then. The tournament's highest run-getter made maximum of his second life by hitting a 58-ball 77 before he was run out in the last ball of the innings. But there was not much reason for the Lankans to rue the miss of a vital chance as India were below par in their total when they finished on 130 for four after Malinga won a good toss after the match started 40 minutes late following rain in the evening.
Malinga deserves much of the credit for the low score as his mastery in the death overs, bowling yorker after yorker outside off stump, made sure the vaunted Indian batting line-up did not get away. He gave only four runs in the 18th over and conceded seven in the last. In between Nuwan Kulasekara kept Kohli and Yuvraj Singh in check giving only four runs in the 19th. Left-handed Yuvraj was out of sorts with a 21-ball 11 that virtually killed his team's chances to put up anything challenging. Captain MS Dhoni also could manage only four runs from seven deliveries.
Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews set the momentum for their side as their disciplined bowling saw India collect only 15 runs in the first four overs for the loss of Ajinkya Rahane, who was bowled by Mathews in the second over and from that position the Sri Lankan bowling did not relinquish control, despite Kohli's display, to set the platform for Sangakkara to leave a lasting memory for his countrymen.