A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: We cracked under the pressure, admits Mahela Jayawardene

Jayawardene felt dejected after letting the World Twenty20 trophy slip through his hands

Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene admitted that his team cracked under the pressure during the finals of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 against the West Indies.

After having restricted the West Indies to just 32 runs off the first 10 overs, Sri Lanka lost complete control of the match and have now lost in four major finals since 2007.

The Sri Lankans looked extremely convincing throughout the entire World Twenty20 leading up to the finals, as they blew threw their competition in the super 8s and also hammered Pakistan in the semi-finals, but they just could not overcome the rejuvenated West Indies team, who were searching for their first major ICC tournament win since 1979.

West Indies all-rounder Marlon Samuels completely changed the momentum of the match, cracking 78 runs off just 56 deliveries, which helped the West Indies post a total of 137.

Sri Lanka made a solid start in chasing their target of 138, but it was just not to be as they lost nine wickets for just 53 runs.

“I think we tried very hard, but this match changed in three or four overs in the middle, in the pressure situations we couldn’t control the match. Marlon Samuels batted really well and he took it away from us a little bit. But when we were put under pressure, we didn’t react well to that. When those small mistakes add up, that’s where you lose a match like a final, and that’s what happened to us,” Jayawardene said.

After the match, Jayawardene also announced that he would be resigning as Twenty20 captain.

Sri Lanka had only lost a seven-over match against South Africa en route to the finals, and were labelled as the favourites to win since they were playing on home soil.

Jayawardene stated that this win had hurt the most since the team had played exceptionally well and also because it was in front of their home crowd as well.

“We played well right until the final. Every defeat has been different. How we approached a couple of the finals, we did not start well and we kept chasing the game and it was tough for us to get back into it. I thought today we started well. Marlon took a gamble after the 12th over and it paid off for him. Those were individual performances that you have to give credit to. Under pressure he put his hand up and performed and that crucial moment he controlled,” Jayawardene added.

Jayawardene noted that if Samuels hadn’t been dropped on 20 by Nuwan Kulasekara, the match could have ended differently.

“We dropped a half chance and then they played well in the next three overs, I think that 20 or 30 runs was the difference. If we had kept them to 110 or 120 on this pitch we could have competed better in this match,” Jayawardene said.

Jaywawardene also mentioned that Sri Lanka were capable of chasing a target of 138, but their continuous loss of wickets towards the middle and ending periods really took its toll on the team.

“We wanted to attack. The first six overs, it was crucial for us to get a good start, particularly with the hardness of the ball. But when Dilly got out in the first ball of the second over, that kept us back because Kumar and I knew we had to consolidate and we couldn’t lose another wicket in the first six overs. we were looking at 45-50 runs in the first six to put pressure on them, but that didn’t materialise. They bowled really well and took pace off the ball. They didn’t bowl their quicks and kept bowling their spinners. We never had momentum going in that chase. We had to make sure we had a good start going and we lost wickets regularly,” Jayawardene added.

When asked about why he continued bowling pace bowler Lasith Malinga during the match, even after he had been smashed for 21 runs in his second over, Jayawardene stated that Malinga was one of the best Twenty20 bowlers the team had.

Malinga ended up finishing with his worst Twenty20 bowling figures, having bowled four overs and given away 54 runs.

“After the first 12 overs, Malinga had only bowled one over. I knew that they would have to play some shots, so I gave the ball to my number one bowler to take wickets. But they played well in that period and Lasith couldn’t bowl two good overs then, but that’s cricket. I thought we’d have a chance to take wickets if Lasith bowled because Marlon didn’t play Lasith well in our match in Kandy, so I had thought about that when I gave him the ball. If I knew the script was going to be like that, I probably wouldn’t have bowled him,” Jayawardene said.

Jaywardene also apologised to the 35,000 fans who witnessed their side lose.

The fans could only watch on in despair as the West Indies celebrated their victory after having succumbed to Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the super 8s.

“As a team we gave everything we had. In a big tournament, we wanted to win to give something to the fans who have been cheering us. I’m very disappointed, we had a full house here as well. We just didn’t execute a good gameplan and we weren’t ruthless enough. So we’re very disappointed that we couldn’t give the fans what they wanted, and that hurts a lot,” Jayawardene added.

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