Sri Lanka won a record second cricket World Cup cricket title beating India by six wickets in the World T20 final played in Dhaka, in Bangladesh, at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium yesterday.
Having lost four finals in the last seven years, Sri Lanka finally broke the jinx in style in the final of the ICC-pic:facebook.com/srilankacricket
It’s the second World Cup cricket title for Sri Lanka and the first in the Twenty20 version of the game.
Sri Lanka’s first World Cup success was 18 years ago when Arjuna Ranatunga’s team beat Australia by seven wickets in the ICC World Cup (50 overs) final played in Lahore, Pakistan on March 17, 1996.
Incidentally, the latest World Cup win was achieved at a time the Most Valuable Player of that 1996 World Cup tournament – Sanath Jayasuriya, is serving Sri Lanka cricket as the Chairman of selectors.
It was a stunning performance by Sri Lanka which produced some top quality cricket to break the jinx of coming runners up in World Cup finals, with their bowlers combining effectively to restrict the strong Indian batting line up for an unimpressive 130 for 4 in 20 overs after captain Lasith Malinga elected to field first.
In reply, Sri Lanka, helped by an unbeaten half century by Kumar Sangakkara in his farewell match, reached the target by scoring 134 for 4 in 17.5 overs.
Another golden moment in Sri Lanka sport was signalled when Thisara Perera lofted Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for a massive six in the penultimate ball of the 18th over.
Even then, India threatened to defend their modest total of 130 as Sri Lanka was restricted to 78 for 4 after 12.3 overs. But Sangakkara, joined by Thisara Perera, staged a magnificent comeback with an unfinished 56 run alliance for the fifth wicket in just 32 balls to shatter India’s dream of retaining the world title. Perera’s contribution towards that vital partnership was 23 runs off 14 balls.
Earlier in the innings, Sri Lanka began its run-chase with a bang but lost opener Kusal Perera for 5 in the first ball of the second over. The Indians threatened by capturing the two prized wickets of Tillakaratne Dilshan (18) and Mahela Jayawardene (24) to restrict Sri Lanka to 65 for 3 by the first ten overs. Lahiru Thirimanne departed for 7 as things looked gloomy for Sri Lanka, with the addition of 13 more runs to struggle at 78 for 4 before Sangakkara-Perera partnership took them to safety.
India made every effort to defend their unimpressive total admirably, preying on Sri Lankan nerves. The Indians fielding looked impressive, spinning a web around the batsmen. But Sangakkara’s gem of an innings made the difference in the end.
Playing in his last T20 international inning, Sangakkara once again proved his mettle as a world class batsman to score 52 not out off 35 balls with one six and six boundaries.
The powerful Indian batting line up could not explode against some tight and intelligent bowling by Sri Lanka, except for the lone effort of Virat Kohli who made 77 off 58 balls. All five bowlers used by Sri Lanka – Nuwan Kulasekera, Angelo Mathews, Sachitra Senanayake, Rangana Herath and skipper Malinga did not give any room for the Indian batsmen who could not make any impact in the slog overs.
It was a fitting tribute to two of the greatest batsmen that Sri Lanka has produced in world cricket – Jayawardene and Sangakkara who retired from T20 internationals after the tournament.
Thus, Sri Lanka finally reached its cherished goal after losing four successive World Cup finals in recent times. “We finally managed to break the jinx.
Thanks so much to family and friends but this one is for Sri Lanka fans who have been waiting since 1996. It wasn’t a normal match.
There were a lot of emotions as this was the last T20. It hasn’t sunk in yet and it will take a couple of days to get the feeling,” Jayewardene was quoted as saying after their triumph.
“It’s been a long time coming, I can’t be happier or prouder. I think the side carried me so I was pretty happy I could give something back to them. It means a lot to all of us; to me, to our families, to everyone back home,” Sangakkara said in his post match television interview.
Paceman Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain for the final three matches of the tournament following a one-match suspension and two-match omission of Dinesh Chandimal, said his team was desperate to give Sangakkara and Jayawardene a victorious send-off from the format.
Back at home, people across Sri Lanka cerebrated the team’s victory lighting crackers and fireworks. People of all of walks of life gathered before giant screens erected in major towns, clubs and other public places to catch the action and were seen celebrating until the wee hours.