India’s quest for a historic treble ended in heartbreak as a gutsy Sri Lanka produced a clinical display to win their maiden ICC World T20 trophy with a convincing six-wicket victory on Sunday.
Sri Lanka thus became third time lucky in the World T20 summit clash while Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s dream to win a record third World title lay in tatters as his team faltered when it mattered the most.
Despite Virat Kohli’s belligerent 77, Yuvraj Singh’s excruciatingly slow innings of 11 off 21 balls left India with a very modest score 130 for four in 20 overs. Kohli’s brilliance went down the drain due to Yuvraj’s struggle. (Captain’s Corner: Sri Lanka executed their plans brilliantly in last four, says Dhoni)
Sri Lanka faced a few anxious moments in the early stages of the chase but eventually overhauled the target with 13 balls to spare.
It turned out to be a ‘fitting finale’ for the two retiring legends of Sri Lankan cricket as Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara certainly made it a ‘farewell to remember’ as the champions ended their T20 careers with memorable triumph.
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Mahela’s 24 was a sweet little innings which set the tempo while Sangakkara anchored it to perfection with an unbeaten 52. He again proved to be a thorn in the flesh for the Indians as he chose the final of the tournament to claw his way back to form after indifferent first five matches. (Photos: A fitting finale for retiring duo)
The match decisively swung in Sri Lanka’s favour in the 15th over in which Thisara Perera (17 no) chanced his arms to hit Amit Mishra over long-on while Sangakkara swept him fine to get a boundary. 15 runs came off that over and the match was as good as over by then.
In Mishra’s next over, Sangakkara hit him over extra cover for a boundary while Thisara again hit the portly leggie for a six. Mishra went for 32 from four overs and would like to forget his last two matches after a good start. (Full Coverage: ICC World T20)
While Sangakkara made it a ‘Farewell to Remember’, Yuvraj Singh, may face the ire of Indian cricket fans as his slow batting completely upset the momentum for the Indians.
Sangakkara completed his 50 off 33 balls with a sweep and was egged on by the hero of 1996 World Cup Sanath Jayasuriya.
India though started their defence in right earnest when Kusal Perera (5) was removed in the second over by young Mohit.
However in his next over, Jayawardene got three boundaries as Lanka were finally up and running in their chase. The first was a cheeky upper cut, the second a tuck off his hips and the third a ‘lemon cut’ as 15 runs came off that Mohit over.
Then came the Mahela special as he played a deft late-cut off Bhuvneshwar. It was followed with another cheeky scoop over bowler’s head as Indians had a surrendered look on their faces.
T M Dilshan (18) was caught by Kohli at deep square leg fence off Ashwin as Sangakkara joined Jayawardene.
Jayawardene’s crisp 24 ended when he tried an uncharacteristically cross-batted heave off Suresh Raina that was caught at deep mid-wicket boundary by Ashwin.
Lahiru Thirimanne (7) was dismissed when he went for a cut shot and Dhoni snapped it brilliantly behind the stumps off Mishra’s bowling.
Sri Lanka were 78 for four at that stage but Perera and Sangakkara coolly carried the team home.
Earlier, Kohli struck his fourth half century of the tournament with yet another superb effort but Lankan bowlers applied brakes on a struggling Yuvraj Singh which certainly hampered the scoring rate to a large extent.
Kohli struck five fours and four sixes in his 58-ball knock as Yuvraj turned out to be a complete disaster as he looked completely out of sorts which even frustrated the in-form batsman at the other end. The last four overs produced only 19 runs due to Yuvraj’s failure to get big hits.
While Kohli peppered all parts of the field with his blazing blade, Yuvraj found it difficult to even pick up Sachithra Senanayeke’s ‘doosra’ and Lasith Malinga’s blockhole deliveries. His struggle became so apparent that even Kohli’s anger was palpable at the other end as the hero of 2007 triumph consumed delivery after delivery.
Rangana Herath (1/23) and Angelo Mathews (1/25) gave away only 48 runs in the eight overs as it became a Kohli versus
Sri Lanka duel. Even Nuwan Kulasekara (1/29) had a decent day in office despite 16 coming off his one over.
When Yuvraj was finally out for 11 off 21 balls as he holed out in the deep, the loudest cheer came from the Indian fans, who were relieved to see him back in the dug-out.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in with only 11 deliveries left and found it difficult to accelerate the pace of scoring as Malinga and Kulasekara bowled the yorkers.
Ajinkya Rahane (3) looked completely shaky during his eight-ball stay at the crease. Angelo Mathews pitched it on length and the opener played it early trying to pull it and was played on.
Kohli entered the crease twirling his bat as Vivian Richards used to do during his playing days.
He clipped Kulasekara’s inswinging half volley through the deep mid-wicket region for a boundary. Rohit got his first boundary when Senanayeke couldn’t pitch the carrom ball properly as he pulled it towards square leg for a one bounce four.
Malinga’s first was the last of the Powerplay overs as Rohit got his second boundary, smashing an over-pitched delivery from Malinga back past him.
India were 31 for one at the end of the Powerplay and it was not one of the smoothest start by the favourites.
Herath would consider himself unlucky as he could have got Kohli, then on 11, with the first delivery of his spell. He dropped it a bit short and Kohli got on the backfoot to play the pull-shot. Malinga standing at short mid-wicket got his hands to it but it bounced off.
Rohit, on the otherhand, got the first six off the match, with an effortless lofted drive over wide long-off.
Herath bowled a much better second over by constantly altering the length of his deliveries as Kohli tried to give him charge on multiple occasions.
India reached one of their slowest 50’s in the tournament in the 10th over of the innings bowled by Mathews when the Indian duo showed their intent of trying to up the ante.
Rohit brought up the 50-run stand with a slash through point while Virat hit the bowler over deep mid-wicket for a six. Having given only 11 in his first three overs, Mathews finished it with decent figures of 4-0-25-1.
Rohit (29) again frittered away a good start as Herath got him in his third over. The batsman tried to make room moving towards leg stump and the bowler followed him with an angular delivery which he hit straight to the cover fielder Senanayeke. Rohit hit three fours in his 26-ball knock.
Kohli continued to get the boundaries as he delightfully lofted Senanayeke over extra covers for a one-bounce boundary.
Kohli’s third six was a straight lofted shot off a Herath delivery but left-arm spinner’s figures of one for 23 from four overs was respectable.
The batsmen were never comfortable against him as he varied the length and pace of his deliveries.
The 50 came off 43 balls with a slice for a single to deep point off Malinga with the help of two fours and three sixes.
While Yuvraj struggled at the other end against Senanayeke’s away-spinning deliveries, there was no stopping Kohli as he spanked Kulasekara over deep mid-wicket for a six and followed it up with an extra cover drive. The next was a pull shot which went over deep mid wicket fielder’s head for a boundary. Kohli got 15 off the first four deliveries and 16 came off the over.