An inexplicable batting performance in the final four overs cost India their second World T20 title.
The high-flying Indians were brought down to their knees by a determined Sri Lanka who ended their four-final losing streak to lift their maiden World T20 title here at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium on Sunday.
Opting to bat first after a short rain delayed the start by 40 minutes, Sri Lanka did well to restrict India to a well below-par 130 for four. At various stages of their chase, the Lankans threatened to choke but an assured Kumar Sangakkara (52 n.o., 35b, 6x4, 1x6) held firm to guide the islanders to 132 for four in 17.5 overs to complete a well-deserved six-wicket victory. The Lankans were fortuitous too as many of their edges and miscued hits escaped the fielders but they could take those risks given the inadequate target that they were chasing.
Man of the match Sangakkara couldn’t have chosen a better occasion to get into form. The left-hander, coming on the back of a sequence of 14, 0, 4, 1 in his last four innings, anchored the chase to perfection and ensured himself and his friend Mahela Jayawardene a perfect send-off. The veteran duo was playing in its last T20 international for Sri Lanka.
Virat Kohli (77, 58b, 5x4, 4x6) came up with another masterful innings but the rest didn’t quite measure up to the task. It was as though India had a brain-freeze in the backend of the innings. They hadn’t had the best of starts, losing Ajinkya Rahane only in the second over but Kohli had hauled the innings back on track with another authoritative innings.
Stroke-making wasn’t easy on a pitch where the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat and India could manage just 31 in the Power Play overs. Given the slow nature of the pitch, Rohit and Kohli cut out their ultra aggressive streak and looked to punish only the loose deliveries. Kohli, who was adjudged man of the tournament for tallying 319 runs in the event, even got lucky when Malinga grassed him on 11 off Rangana Herath and the disappointment among Lankan supporters was only matched by the relief in the Indian camp. The right-hander quickly established his authority slamming the left-arm spinner over long off for a six in the same over.
Lankans knew it was a costly miss and it was turning out to be one when Kohli punished Angelo Mathews for 14 runs in the 10th over of the innings and then took Nuwan Kulasekara for 16 in the 16th. The right-hander, who brought up his third half-century of the tournament, was in the zone again, timing the ball well and clearing the ropes with great ease. Sitting pretty on 111 for two at the end of the 17th over, India appeared set for a total in the vicinity of 150 with some big hitters still waiting in the dugout. But, in a dramatic turn of events, India completely lost their way with Yuvraj Singh (11 off 21) slowing down the pace in what should rank as his worst innings in T20 internationals.
The southpaw was all at sea against Sachitra Senanayake and Malinga, playing as many eight dot balls between 17.1 and 18.1 overs. He could neither give the strike to Kohli nor produce the big shots that he once was capable of. The Lankans did bowl well towards the end, particularly Malinga and Kulasekara who were excellent with their wide yorkers. Even so, India’s batting in the final stages of their innings was mystifying. Yuvraj’s diffidence not only kept Kohli out of strike, but affected his rhythm too. The in-form batsman got to face just eight of the last 24 balls during which his strike-rate slipped below 100 from an impressive 140 at the start of the 17th over. Dhoni could do little in the final over as India managed a piddly 19 in the last four.