Calcutta/Colombo: At the end of the day, a victory is often thought to be the thread that sews up differences within a team or a set-up. The ecstasy of a win is expected to ease tensions and bridge differences.
But it doesn’t seem to be the case with Sri Lanka.
The island nation had a triumphant run in the just-concluded World T20 in Bangladesh, where they outplayed India in the final on Sunday. This was their first world title after Arjuna Ranatunga captained them to World Cup victory in 1996.
The Lankan players returned to their country on Tuesday and received heroes’ welcome. They were driven in an open bus to central Colombo’s Galle Face promenade for a civic reception.
But the sweet taste of success soon turned sour when Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara hit out at Board officials who had criticised their decisions about retiring from the shortest format of the game.
While Sangakkara had revealed about his retirement plans in an interview to a Lankan daily just before the World T20, Mahela had announced his decision through ICC’s Twitter account.
Reacting to this, Sri Lanka’s chief selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya had expressed disappointment at not having been told about the two senior players’ plans before it were announced.
“I feel very let down by them. I’ve been very transparent with them. If they’re even resting, I’ve been calling them and telling them what’s going on. I never ever dealt controversially with any senior player,” Jayasuriya had said.
Jayawardene and Sangakkara replied to that on Tuesday, during a media conference at the Colombo airport.
“It is very regrettable to hear things mentioned to certain media by certain officials about our retirement,” Jayawardene said.
“What I told the media was in response to a query. I am 37 years of age now. So there is no chance of me playing in another World T20. That was what I said. We are disappointed that Board officials, without clarifying the statements from us, had found fault with us,” Jayawardene added.
Sangakkara, the Man of the Match in the final against India, agreed with Jayawardene’s views and said the incident had a negative effect on them during the World T20. “The people who put us on that frame of mind must take the blame,” Sangakkara said.
But that bit apart, the day was one to be cherished for a lifetime for the Lankan players.
Interestingly, speedster Lasith Malinga, who led Sri Lanka in the business end of the tournament, has attributed his success in the event to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“My experience of playing in the IPL for six years helped”, Malinga said on Tuesday.
Explaining his IPL experience, Malinga said Sri Lanka’s success was mainly due to Indian batsmen’s inability to make runs in the last four overs of the summit clash.
“The Indian batsmen are good at making a lot of runs in the final overs. From my IPL experience, I knew on which side to bowl to them and what field to set for them,” Malinga, who plays for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, said.
“In the final, I executed the plans we had discussed before the game. It helped having seniors like Sangakkara and Mahela,” he added.
Malinga had earlier faced criticism from local fans and media that he had put the IPL before country as his performance against India had been left much to be desired.
Malinga’s poor performance was cited as the main reason for Sri Lanka losing the 2011 World Cup final to India.
The pacer was given captaincy after regular T20 skipper Dinesh Chandimal was forced to sit out Sri Lanka’s last group league encounter with a suspension. Thereafter, Chandimal opted out to allow the best XI to take field and Malinga thus led the side in the semi-final and final.
Chandimal, on the other hand, said he was happy to make a sacrifice for the betterment of the team.
“What was important was to win the title, so I was happy to let the in-form Lahiru Thirimanna take my place,” he said.