ICC World T20 Final Results: Perfect Send-Off for Sangakkara and Jayawardene as Sri Lanka Crush India to Lift World Cup
By Deepak Vikraman | April 7, 2014 2:39 AM EST
It just had to be Sri Lanka didn't it, it just had to. With Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene bidding goodbye to T20 international cricket, there was no way Sri Lanka were going to settle for second place again, it had to be the title.
In a wonderful display of T20 bowling, Sri Lanka restricted India to a small total, before Sangakkara came to the fore like only he can to take his side to their first World Cup since that epic win in 1996.
Losing the 2011 50-over final to India would have hurt, but that was a movie-bound script too wasn't it - a fitting tribute to Sachin Tendulkar. So, with Jayawardene and Sangakkara striding towards the sunset, the script could only be written one way, a sweet-as-they-come six-wicket win in the ICC World T20 2014 final, which was delayed by about 40 minutes due to rain, against the previously unbeaten India.
Put into bat, India got that now inevitable wonderful knock from Virat Kohli (77), but Yuvraj Singh and some unbelievable death bowling from Sri Lanka put paid to India's hopes of posting a big total, eventually ending up on a never-even-remotely-gonnabe-enough 130 for four.
The chase had its minor hiccups, but Sangakkara, with ice running through his veins, was class personified, the left-hander stroking a match-winning unbeaten 52 (35b, 6x4, 1x6) to take Sri Lanka, finalists in 2009 and 2012 in this tournament, to 132 for four in just 17.5 overs, and cue the carry the two legends on the shoulders celebrations.
Kusal Perera started the innings in his usual fashion, hitting a boundary off the second delivery of the innings, but another attempt at finding the ropes, in the first ball of the second over from Mohit Sharma, led to his demise as the left-hander top-edged one to Ravindra Jadeja at mid-off.
Jayawardene, in his final T20I game, was his usual silky self, though, taking the singles, while also picking off the boundaries, with Tillakaratne Dilshan (18, 16b, 4x4) also looking good at the crease.
The fourth over from Mohit Sharma went for 15 runs, a big over which India just could not afford to give away, with a ten-run over from the next, bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, putting Sri Lanka on their way to a big win.
However, a T20 game can turn in a split second with a wicket, and Dilshan's dismissal, courtesy Dhoni's go-to man Ashwin, in the sixth over, gave India a sniff again.
It was almost script-cannot-be-written-better time now for Sri Lanka with two of their modern greats - Jayawardene and Sangakkara - in their final match in this format given the opportunity to take their team home.
They seemed to be doing just that, calmly taking 24 runs from four overs together, bringing the target down to 66 from 62 balls, before a rare false shot from Jayawardene (24, 24b, 4x4), so often the man for the big occasion, opened that door just the tiny bit again.
It moved a little wider three overs later, with Lahiru Thirimanne edging one to Dhoni off Mishra, leaving Sri Lanka on a tricky 78 for four. Thisara Perera was sent in in an attacking move to finish the match off quickly, with Sri Lanka needing 53 from the final seven overs.
With man of the match Sangakkara in the crease, though, Sri Lanka never really needed to worry, even if Thisara Perera (24, 13b, 3x6) helped with a couple of lusty blows, as the veteran, refusing to go away with another runners-up medal, showed exactly why he is one of the all-time greats, playing an immaculate T20 innings under tremendous pressure to give his team a momentous victory.
The India innings was defined by one man who continued his wonderful run-scoring ways, and another who has looked the shadow's shadow of the man that pretty much won the World Cup for India in 2011.
India went in unchanged, with Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma given the onus to give their side a strong start. However, this was a Sri Lanka side in the zone with the ball and in the field.
Rahane fell in the second over, playing onto his stumps off Angelo Mathews (4-0-25-1), which brought in Kohli to the crease again, with those billion or more hopes resting on the right-hander.
It was not super-smooth Kohli, gliding his way to another big score, making batting look like a calming swim, but it was still effective. The only problem was there was no help from the other side.
Rohit did his best to provide some good support, hitting a few boundaries and allowing Kohli, who was struggling for timing at the beginning, to settle in.
India, though, were slowly being strangled by the Sri Lanka bowlers, with just 31 runs coming from the Powerplay overs. Rohit tried to break the shackles and looked capable, finding a boundary or two, but the pressure just would not let up, and two straight dot balls in the 11th over from Rangana Herath (4-0-23-1), with India on just 64, led to Rohit (29, 26b, 3x4) trying an extravagant shot through the offside, with the ball only going straight to Sachitra Senanayake at cover.
So, time for Yuvraj to turn back time then, and bring that big willow of his into play. Well, he did bring the bat into play, by using it as a fan to get some cooling into the still air, because that bat did not make contact with the white ball too often.
Coming in at the 11th over, the stage was set for Yuvraj to ally perfectly with his great friend Kohli and give India the impetus towards the final five overs or so. But what followed was a right-old nightmare of an innings, similar to the ones played by Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels for the West Indies in the semifinals against Sri Lanka.
When Kohli, who won the man of the series prize, caught fire in the 16th over, taking Kulasekara for 16 runs, all Yuvraj, if he could not find the boundaries, had to do was give Kohli (77, 58b, 5x4, 4x6) the strike, but alarmingly Kohli faced only eight of the final 24 deliveries - he was on 70 after the 16th over, and finished on 76, getting out in the last over.
In between that Yuvraj (11, 21, 0x4, 0x6), the man of the tournament when India won the World Cup in 2011, ate up dot balls like it was butter chicken, and India's hopes of a big score to put the pressure on Sri Lanka went with it. The left-hander, who could not even get bat on ball to hit out or get out, mercifully mistimed a shot to Thisara Perera at mid-off with Kulasekara (4-0-29-1) picking up the wicket.
However, if everyone expected MS Dhoni (4, 7b), the master finisher, to come in and tonk a few sixes to give his bowlers some sort of total to defend, they were in for a rude awakening, as some brilliant bowling from Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga (4-0-27-0), and some poor no Plan B batting from Dhoni, who just could not get the wide yorkers away, and India, led to the final couple of overs going for just 11 runs - the final 24 deliveries went for a mere 19.
With a small total to chase down, and no scoreboard pressure, it was easy as pie for Sri Lanka, as they finally shed the bridesmaids tag.
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