Kumar Sangakkara struck an unbeaten 52 as Sri Lanka defeated a disappointing India by six wickets yesterday to finally win the World Twenty20 title.
Sri Lanka reached 134-4 in 17.5 overs to complete the long-awaited win in an ICC world tournament after restricting India to an unimpressive 130-4.
Former captain Sangakkara ensured there was no heartbreak this time after Sri Lanka had lost in four ICC world finals over the past seven years, including the World Cups in 2007 and 2011. Sri Lanka were making their third World Twenty20 final appearance. They lost to Pakistan in the 2009 final and to the West Indies in 2012.
Sangakkara had struggled in this tournament, scoring only 19 runs before this match, but struck form when it mattered most.
He was quickly in the groove and took control despite a slight slowdown in the middle when the score was 78-4 in the 13th over.
Sangakkara and veteran teammate Mahela Jayawardene had announced that they would not take part in international T20s after this tournament. Sangakkara proceeded to make it a memorable final outing for both with a fluent 35-ball knock in which he hit six fours and one six.
The left-hander saw the team through in the company of Thisara Perera (23 not out), who completed the victory with a huge six off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and punched the air as the Sri Lanka team ran onto the pitch.
Sangakkara raised his hands with helmet and bat to celebrate the win and was hugged by fellow players and even opponent Virat Kohli.
Sri Lanka then celebrated their first world title since the 1996 World Cup triumph with a victory lap. Sangakkara and Jayawardene were carried on teammates’ shoulders even as smoke from an elaborate fireworks display enveloped the ground.
“We have waited five finals for this victory,” Sangakkara said. “I’m happy to have done something for the team. Everyone was looking forward to this win. India is a very good side but we were quite confident of pulling it off today.”
Earlier, the Indian innings could never get the impetus it needed and defending a total less than 150 was always going to be difficult.
Kohli struck 77 off 58 balls with five fours and four sixes but some tight bowling from Sri Lanka restricted the free flow of runs expected from the Indian batting line-up.
The departure of a well-set Rohit Sharma for 29 and a slow 11 off 21 by Yuvraj Singh saw the Sri Lankan bowlers seize the moment.
But India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni defended the decision to send in Yuvraj at number four ahead of Suresh Raina and himself.
Kohli, who survived two chances on 11 and 65, completed his fourth half-century of the tournament to finish as the highest scorer of this World Twenty20 with 319 runs. He was also named player of the tournament.
India could score only 19 runs in the last four overs as Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara bowled beautifully, going for yorkers and full-length deliveries outside the off stump.
India, World Twenty20 champion in 2007, was in line to hold all three ICC tournaments at the same time since it won the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy.
India had defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the 2011 World Cup.