Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni attributed the team’s loss against Sri Lanka in the ICC World T20 final to his batsmen’s failure to convert the starts and the islanders’ “brilliant” bowling at the death. (Report: Sri Lanka end 18-year wait)
Aiming to become the first-ever team to win the tournament twice, India’s quest ended in heartbreak as Sri Lanka produced a clinical display to win their maiden World T20 trophy with a convincing six-wicket victory, thus scripting a perfect send-off to legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. (Photos: A fitting finale for retiring duo)
“In the middle overs, our batsmen tried their best to get going, but we couldn’t convert the good start. Virat (Kohli) was the only one who could score but it was a little difficult for him also initially,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“We could have always got those 10-15 runs, but cricket is always about those extra runs.”
India could manage just 19 runs in the last four overs and that did not help their cause, but it prompted Dhoni to praise the opposition bowlers, especially Sri Lanka skipper Lasith Malinga. (Full Coverage: ICC World T20)
“The last four overs they executed their plans brilliantly and for our side that doesn’t play scoops well, that worked for them. (Lasith) Malinga with that slingy action, side-on it gets difficult for the batsmen, he kept bowling it wide. He bowled the yorkers well. It was a perfect game for them.”
Going through a purple patch, Kohli top-scored yet again with an aggressive 77 even as the others around him struggled to get going.
“Virat has been brilliant in the last few years. He is someone who makes most of the opportunity. The good thing is that he plays authentic shots and still scores runs. He is got a bright future ahead of them.”
Asked why it is difficult to win the tournament twice, Dhoni said it has got to do with different conditions and the nature of the slam-bang format.
Dhoni said the Bangladesh Cricket Board arranged everything to perfection, adding that they love their cricket.
As he walked towards the dais to collect his medal along with his teammates, Malinga got a huge roar from the crowd. He said they were determined to win it for Sangakkara and Jayawardene.
“I was really lucky to captain in the last three games. Today (Sunday), we thought it was Sanga and Mahela’s farewell match. The boys thought we needed to do it for them,” the Lankan captain said.
“The last few overs we bowled really well. Me, Kula and Sachithra. Mahela and Sanga are world-class players and it was a good opportunity for us to be able to play with them. They are still playing Tests and ODIs and the younger players need to pick all that they can from the two. They are sharing their knowledge.”
Man of the Match Kumar Sangakkara, who hit an unbeaten 52 off 35 balls, said it’s been a long time coming. “It’s been a long time coming. Six years, five finals. I thank the side for coming all through to the final, didn’t do much before, so I am happy I was able to do something for our team.”
“It means a lot to all of us. We are very humbled by this. My family and playing for Sri Lanka are the two most important things in my life.”
As far as bowling at the death was concerned, Sangakkara was full of praise for his teammates.
“The way Kohli was batting, he was about to take the game away from us, but the way we bowled was brilliant. It was an all-round performance, led by Lasith, Angelo (Mathews) had an amazing tournament. India are a tough side, but we are happy to be in the winning side.”
Talking about his retirement from this format, he said, “Everyone’s got to go and my time is now.”
For his 319 runs, Kohli was named the Man of the Tournament, and he was gracious in defeat, preferring to congratulate the two Lankan greats at the outset.
“Congratulations to the SL team, especially Mahela and Sanga,” he said.
Referring to West Indies skipper Darren Sammy’s comment about even the Almighty wanting Jayawardene and Sangakkara to finish their T20 international career on a high, Kohli said, “Darren was right, the God was really smiling on them. But they deserved this, they played really well.”
As far as his batting was concerned, he said, “Last T20 WC, I tried to do my bit but we did not qualify. This time around I tried to make the most of my good form. The most pleasing thing was that we made it to the finals.
“Some people talk about that I can’t score in the first innings! but Malinga bowled very well in the last few overs. It was one of those off days. Sri Lanka bowled in brilliant areas. Our boys can be proud of the way we played this tournament,” Kohli said.