With almost 20 balls to go and Sri Lanka knocking on the doors to victory, Thisara Perera skied the ball. Ajinkya Rahane covered a lot of ground from long on and dived in attempt to catch the ball. He dropped it. Well folks, that describes India’s day on the field. The hype and aura around this ICC World T20’14 Final was, well, short lived.
It was the final T20 match for two connoisseurs of the game- Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. They have been two legends not only for their nation but also for the game of cricket. Their association with the game would never be forgotten and their names will forever be etched in cricket enthusiast’ hearts.
The shadows dawned and the rains came pouring down as Mirpur was to host the finals of the World T20. The stage was set as the two best teams had advanced to the finals with equal vigour. The Lankan Lions and the blues from India had bamboozled teams with their own spinners and marched on to the finals.
Sri Lanka and India have had phenomenal success with both bat and ball. What happened on the day was a story different altogether. It was pretty much a one sided affair and in the end the Sri Lankans won fairly easily.
Many feel that the Indian team’s fate was literally set when the coin was tossed as Sri Lanka and Lasith Malinga made India have the first bite of the cherry with little or no hesitation. India got off to the worst possible start with Ajinkya Rahane getting castled by Angelo Matthews in the second over of the match.
Rohit Sharma and India’s talisman Virat Kohli steadied the ship as they together stroked a fluent 60 run partnership for the second wicket. Rohit soon fell to spinner Ranagana Herath as his accurate turners got the better of him.
Next to the crease was India’s 07 and 11 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh. Well, contrary to the two World Cups he won for the nation, this time it can be safely said that he was the root cause for the loss. He plodded and plodded for 21 balls as he scored a meek 11 runs. His pathetic batting got the better of him as he got out off a full toss by Nuwan Kulasekara.
Amidst of all this, there was one performance which overshadowed all these performances. He won the Player of the Tournament by a country mile as Nasser Hussain quoted. He was easily the best batsman today. But in the last four overs, he faced a rather pale 7 balls. Virat Kohli certainly was India’s only positive in the batting as of today.
The death bowling by the Lankans was simply fantastic to say the least. Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara did their homework pretty well and leaked a mere 19 runs in the last four overs. Malinga in particular was very accurate and was in his lethal best. Kulasekara was also extremely good under the circumstances. The innings ended as India finished with a paltry 130 for four wickets with the innings culminating with the fall of Virat Kohli as run out on the final delivery of the innings.
The Sri Lankans got off to a bright start as Kusal Perera started off his blitzkrieg. But that was short lived as Mohit Sharma brought the Perera juggernaut to a halt when the scoreboard was just about to start ticking. Jadeja took a splendid catch under pressure and the Indians’ glimmer of hope was coming alive.
Dilshan and erstwhile stalwart Mahela Jayawerdene got together as they tried to calm down the nerves on the field. A few boundaries certainty did the trick and even ‘Captain Cool’ Mahendera Singh Dhoni seemed to look flustered. But it was due that sooner or later a wicket was to fall. Dilshan became too ambitious and tried to score another boundary. Virat Kohli was as cool as a cucumber as he took a difficult catch under pressure. Ravichandran Ashwin had again done the trick for his captain when he needed the most.
The fall of Dilshan’s wicket signalled something that viewers all around the world see for the last time in this form of the game. It was the sight of two greats- Mahela Jayawerdene and Kumar Sangakkara at the crease at the same time. They steadied the ship with ones and two’s and got the scoreboard ticking. Sangakkara looked as though he was flustered but all the tension oozed off after he scored a boundary and a six of a Ravindra Jadeja over as he relished the ball coming into him. A few balls later, Jayawerdene tried one shot too many as he was caught by Ashwin.
On the other side, Sangakkara was on a league of his own. He was fluently stroking the ball around the park and was milking the spinners. Luhiru Thiramanne was the next batsman on to the crease. He had a brief but quiet stay in the crease which was not appealing to the eyes to say the least. He got out as Amit Mishra worked his magic yet again.
Thisara Perera was the next out. With the run rate slowly picking pace, the nerves were to be tested. But cometh the hour and cometh the man. Sangakkara scored a boundary which was followed by a huge six by Perera. Both these shots were of Mishra’s over and that one over turned the match totally towards their favour. The match ended with Perera bludgeoning Ashwin straight down the ground as the celebrations begun.
More than the not so interesting final, it was the death bowling of Sri Lanka that fascinated one and all. Clearly the better team won today and with that being said, I bid adieu.