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Monday , April 7 , 2014
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Dots derail Dhoni’s triple dream

- Perfect finish, but for Sri Lanka and not India

Dhaka, April 6: Sentiment, history, drama over the weather... So much got compressed into the World T20 final, which saw Kumar Sangakkara actually present himself the perfect farewell from cricket’s shortest format.

It’s possible, after all.

An overwhelmed Sangakkara was not out on 52, off 35 deliveries, when feisty Thisara Perera smashed the winning runs, giving Sri Lanka their maiden World T20 title, less than two years after the heartbreak in Colombo.

The 50-over format is an entirely different ball game, but Sri Lanka did, in a way, settle scores for having lost the 2011 World Cup final to India.

Led by stand-in captain Lasith Malinga who, in the lead up to today, told The Telegraph that he was “enjoying” the responsibility, Sri Lanka reaffirmed their status as the most formidable team (in recent years) in global competitions.

The Germany of cricket, perhaps.

Another giant of the modern era (and a former Sri Lanka captain), Mahela Jayawardene, bowed out from the T20 game. He didn’t have a massive contribution, but even a 24 counts for something in a low-scoring match.

Both MoM Sangakkara and Jayawardene made their debut after the 1996 World Cup win, so when they retire from all formats, they’ll at least have the winner’s medal from one world event as a cherished possession.

Absolutely well deserved.

India’s chance to write history by becoming the first team to hold the three ICC trophies simultaneously went up in smoke in the very first session, after the batsmen struggled to 130 for four.

Barring one Nuwan Kulasekara over which went for 16 runs, Sri Lanka’s bowling was spot-on. The bowlers’ discipline, indeed, was admirable.

The Sachithra Senanayakes choked India almost effortlessly.

That India played out 47 dot deliveries (Yuvraj Singh featured in 10 of those) was disaster-inviting in itself.

Also, the last four overs produced as few as 19 runs.

Unthinkable from a line-up which takes pride in the quality of its batting.

Clearly, India’s total was well below par, particularly in such a major final. The 17th over had been just a ball old when the equation was down to 23 off 23.

From then on, Sri Lanka could have won with Sangakkara batting blindfolded!

Ten deliveries later, it was over for India, who stumbled to their only defeat in this edition of the World T20.

Did India underestimate Sri Lanka? The jury’s out on this one.

It can’t be termed a consolation, but vice-captain Virat Kohli, who batted with such command throughout (319 runs) was voted the Man of the Tournament.

“I’m disappointed that we couldn’t cross the line, as we’d come this far unbeaten. Personally, I’m happy with my performance. I just tried to keep it simple,” Virat said.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn’t offer an excuse, but complimented Sri Lanka. “I thought they executed their plans well... They were on the mark and that made it more difficult for us. Yes, there’s a lot of disappointment.”

Malinga, who began the tournament as vice-captain to Dinesh Chandimal, who was asked to step down before their last group match, against New Zealand, was in a daze.

And, why not?

“We had to do something special today, that’s why we gave our best. After a win, some will say it was luck, others talent. I don’t believe in luck, we worked hard,” Malinga maintained.

For both teams, the 2013-14 season has ended. India, especially, will have very mixed feelings.

As for Sri Lanka, the Asia Cup last month and, now, a premier global trophy. There’s much to rejoice before the board resumes contracts-related negotiations with the players.

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