Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka celebrate after being crowned World Twenty20 champions
With Sri Lanka having lost in the World Twenty20 final in 2009 and 2012, it was third time lucky for the Lankan Lions as they defeated India by six wickets to be crowned 2014 World Twenty20 champions.
Playing in his last Twenty20 International, Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara had a night to remember as he smashed an unbeaten half-century to lead his team to World Twenty20 glory.
Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga would have been delighted with his decision to bowl first early on as India opener Ajinkya Rahane was clean bowled by Angelo Mathews for three runs.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli made up for the early loss of Rahane with a 60-run partnership before Sharma was caught by Sachithra Senanayake at short cover off the bowling of Rangana Herath for 29.
Kohli and Yuvraj Singh kept the runs flowing with a 55-run partnership, during which Kohli brought up his half-century, before Singh was caught by Thisara Perera at long-off off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara for only 11 runs.
Kohli ended up making 77 off 58 balls, which included five boundaries and four sixes, before he was run out by Senanayake off the last ball of the innings.
Thanks to Kohli, India finished on 130/4 at the end of their 20 overs.
Kulasekara, Herath and Mathews picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 131 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a poor start as opening batsman Kusal Perera was caught by Ravindra Jadeja at mid-off off the bowling of Mohit Sharma for five runs.
Tillakaratne Dilshan only made 18 runs before he was caught by Kohli at deep square leg off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Mahela Jayawardene, who was also playing in his last Twenty20 International, managed to make 24 runs, during which he registered his 1000th run in his World Twenty20 career, before he was caught by Ashwin at midwicket off the bowling of Suresh Raina.
Lahiru Thirimanne failed to have an impact as he was caught behind off the bowling of Amit Mishra for just seven runs.
However, it was all Sri Lanka from that point as Sangakkara and Thisara Perera amassed an unbeaten 56-run partnership, during which Sangakkara brought up his half-century, to lead their side to victory.
Sangakkara finished on 52 off 35 balls, which included six boundaries and a six, while Perera remained undefeated on 23 off 14 deliveries, which included three sixes.
Sharma, Ashwin, Mishra and Raina all snapped up one wicket each.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was gutted to have lost in the final, and said: “In the middle overs, our batsmen tried our best to get going, but we couldn’t convert the good start. We could have always got those 10-15 runs, but cricket is about those runs. The last four overs they executed their plans very well and for our side that doesn’t play well, that worked for them. Malinga with that slingy action kept bowling it wide. It was a perfect game for them. 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 him.”
Malinga was over the moon at having led Sri Lanka to their maiden World Twenty20 title, and said: “I was really lucky to captain in the last three games. Today, we thought it was Sanga and Mahela’s farewell match…the boys thought we needed to do it for them. Last few overs we bowled really well. Me, Kula and Sachithra. Mahela and Sanga are world-class batsmen 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 up all that they can from the two.”
Sangakkara was named Man of the Match, and said: “It’s been a long time coming. Waited five finals. Pretty happy I was able to do something for our team. It means a lot to all of us. We are very humbled by this. 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 had an amazing tournament. India are a tough side, but we are happy to be the winning side. My family and playing for Sri Lanka are the two most important things that happened to me in my life. Everyone’s got to go and my time is now.”
Kohli received the Player of the Tournament award, and said: “Congratulations to the SL team, especially Mahela and Sanga. Darren [Sammy] was right, God was really smiling on them. But they deserved this, they played really well. Last T20 WC, I tried to do my bit, but this time around I tried to make the most of the good form. The most pleasing thing was that we made it to the finals. Some people talk about [how] 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. SL bowled in brilliant areas. Our boys can be proud of the way they played in this tournament.”