India vs Sri Lanka, Dhaka
WT20 Finals, April 6, 2014:
India and Sri Lanka come with a brief history in World Cup knockouts. From the 1996 ODI World Cup semi-finals that Sri Lanka won by default to India’s ODI World Cup triumph in 2011, heartbreaks between the two teams have been pretty common over the years. The 2014 World Cup final was no less than a heartbreak for the Indians.
India had been cruising all along the right from the start. Unbeatable in the Super 10 stage, India had got better off each and every opponent with convincing victories. And yet again, at the forefront of it all was Virat Kohli, taking every bowling attack to the cleaners. MS Dhoni’s backfoot defense off the last ball of the 19th over to let Virat Kohli finish the semi-final against South Africa is one of Indian cricket’s fondest memories till date.
Come the evening of this day, that year Indians were all in readiness for their second T20 final. Put into bat, despite losing Rahane early, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma had steadied the Indian ship to safety. When Yuvraj Singh joined Kohli in the 11th over, little did anyone know that India’s double World Cup hero would struggle putting up his bat to the ball. On a pitch that did offer some help for the bowlers, Yuvraj’s panic in search of runs was getting rubbed off on every Indian supporter. Not only did he fail to score runs, but he also failed to rotate the strike putting immense pressure on Virat Kohli. India, who at one point looked set to post in excess of 150, could only manage 130 at the end of 20 overs.
India were surely 15-20 runs short and the only way out was to apply pressure on the Lankans right away. With 4 wickets down for 78 in the 13th over, the match seemed pretty much in the balance. But Kumar Sangakara playing in his last match for the country had different intentions then. Along with the hard-hitting Thisara Perera for company, the wicket-keeper batsman went all guns blazing. He played a few exquisite drives and a solitary six to seal Sri Lanka’s victory. The veterans Sangakara and Jayawardene deserved a fitting farewell and as Darren Sammy post the rain-affected semifinal put it, “I guess the Almighty wants them to leave on a high.”
Malinga’s superior death bowling ability, Senanayeke and Herath’s discipline and Sangakara’s classy finish, Sri Lanka had their fairy-tale scripted well. Meanwhile mixed reactions were raised in the Indian camp. Yuvraj surely was a reason why India couldn’t go too big, but it’s highly unfair to judge a cricketer on a single performance. When it’s not your day, it’s not your day!