To the acclaim of all neutral observers and their own abundant relief, Sri Lanka became World Twenty20 champions last night. They defeated India, the favourites, with astonishing ease in a final that no one can have expected to be so straightforward.
It was an entirely fitting end to the T20 careers of Sri Lanka’s two durable stalwarts and stars, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, more appropriate still that Sangakkara, after a lean tournament, should lead them to glory. Last month they held a tickertape parade in Colombo after Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup – this may herald the street party of all time.
For the best part of a decade, Sri Lanka have been the nearly men of limited-overs tournaments around the world, invariably diligent, smart, competitive and skilful but always falling just short. Four previous finals since 2007, two in the 50-over World Cup, two in the World T20, had led to four defeats.
India had progressed serenely to the final and were already holders of the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka had played patchily at times and had lost in the group stages to England – of all teams, it might be said.
Last night they brought a big-game plan from which they did not deviate. There were moments when Sri Lanka might have been devoured by the rampant form of Virat Kohli, and India will definitely ask themselves how it was that Kohli made 77 from 58 balls and yet they still managed to muster a mere 130 for 4. Part of the reason was that he faced only eight balls in the last four overs, and partly that Yuvraj Singh, one of the most destructive limited-overs batsmen around, spent 21 balls scratching around over 11. Sri Lanka bowled well and used their changes resourcefully, but perhaps not quite that well.
The total was too meagre and only Sri Lankan apprehension could prevent their victory. The old hands all played their part. Tillakaratne Dilshan larruped four boundaries at the start and Jayawardene performed with neat aplomb before having a rush of blood. But Sangakkara was fiercely determined, paced his innings perfectly, looked for singles, hit boundaries to prevent any tension creeping in and his 52 came from 35 balls.
He said: “It means a lot to all of us. We are very humbled by this. 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.” What a way to go it was.Reuse content