Sri Lanka, expertly shepherded by Kumar Sangakkara in his last T20 international, carried off the World T20 trophy with staggering ease. They triumphed against India by six wickets with 13 balls to spare, outplaying and out-thinking the favourites. Somehow Sri Lankan managed to win at a canter, despite taking only four wickets.
Sangakkara, right, had scored only 19 runs in the tournament but when it really mattered, he was unbeaten on 52 from 35 balls when the entire Sri Lankan squad sprinted on to the field to embrace him. At the end Thisera Perera, with several muscular blows, had offered timely assistance. Earlier Mahela Jayawardene, also in his final T20 appearance, caressed 24 from 24 balls and set his team on course.
Both these jewels of Sri Lankan cricket were carried on the shoulders of grateful team-mates as Sri Lanka’s first outright victory in an ICC tournament since 1996 began to sink in. Meanwhile, a numb Indian team, who had played so flawlessly en route to the final, could only look on at ecstatic celebrations and regret their remarkably tepid performance.
The Indian innings was a very curious affair. It was almost entirely dependent upon Virat Kohli, who hit 77 from 58 deliveries, before he was run out off the last ball. Even Kohli was a tad circumspect at the start and he was cleverly denied the strike at the end. India have been unaccustomed to setting targets in this tournament and despite another polished innings from the man of the tournament they made a complete hash of it.
At the start Ajinkya Rahane struggled but his torments were nothing compared to those of Yuvraj Singh. He came to the crease in the 11th over after Rohit Sharma’s dismissal and proceeded to eke out 11 from 21 balls. It was painful to watch. Even when he managed to get bat on ball the outcome was only a single. In the end the Indian bus shelter must have been willing Yuvraj to get out. They might have seriously considered retiring him.
The last four overs were a calamity for India. Kohli faced eight deliveries and India scored only 19 runs. Their coach, Duncan Fletcher, did not smile at the quirkiness of this display.
Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara bowled superbly during those closing overs at the end of a tigerish performance in the field by the Sri Lankans. But it was not flawless. Kohli was badly missed on 11 and 65. It seemed to matter at the time but thanks to the ineptness of his fellow batsmen – and the resolution of Sangakkara – it did not.