SL beat India by six wickets; Kohli's 77 goes in vain

SL beat India by six wickets; Kohli's 77 goes in vain

 India, it appeared, had saved their worst for the last. After a five-match unbeaten run, M S Dhoni and company imploded at the most crucial stage as Sri Lanka became the newest World T20 champions here on Sunday.

Put into bat after a short spell of rain had delayed the start of the final by 40 minutes, India came up with their worst batting performance of the tournament. Despite man of the tournament Virat Kohli’s sparkling 77 (58b, 5x4, 4x6), India could muster only a modest 130 for four, an inadequate total even on this slow wicket at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium. Lanka suffered a few hiccups during their chase, but Kumar Sangakkara (52 n.o., 35b, 6x4, 1x6) produced his only significant knock of the tournament as the islanders replied with 132 for four in 17.5 overs to send their large support group into a delirium. 

Sangakkara, who was playing his last T20 international along with another veteran Mahela Jayawardene, couldn’t have presented himself a better gift. The win also ended Sri Lanka’s long title drought that has seen them lose four finals [two World Cups (2007, 2011) and two World T20s (2009, 2012)] in the last seven years.

With the small total that India managed, they could exert little pressure on the Lankans. The cold facts from 17th over through to 20th give a clear picture of where India lost their way. Seemingly well placed for a total of 140-150 at the end of the 16th over, India could manage a paltry 19 from the final four overs, effectively killing the game as a contest. Kohli, hitting the ball as well as he had been throughout the event, got to face just eight of the last 24 balls while not a single boundary was scored during that period.

Harsh as it may sound, Yuvraj Singh’s inability to force the pace neutralised all the momentum that Kohli had gathered. His 21-ball 11 allowed the Lankan bowlers to regain their confidence which had been shaken in the face of Kohli’s onslaught.

While the defeat in itself wasn’t entirely unexpected, the manner in which it came was disappointing.     

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