By Ashok Kumar: Just like the 2011 World cup victory was dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar, the T 20 version encounter between the two teams was played for another talented duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. For India, what went wrong will only come out after the post-mortem of the match by the experts. No doubt the victory would have put India in the record books for winning all the three tournaments In one year.
India seems went into the match riding on ‘overconfidence’ of not losing a match in the league stages. They went without plan or very poor plan. Knowing very well they don’t have a strong bowling attack. If the Sri Lankan match against the West Indies is any indication, India should have had a plan B in place. Virat Kohli did his bit but even he got stranded and the star of the death overs Dhoni couldn’t even touch the ball or could not clear the close-in fielders. Virat was the only batsman who was looking worried while a helpless Dhoni could not execute his famous helicopter shot.
It was the repeat of the Sri Lanka’s semi-final match. The last two overs of the Indian innings decided the match. In hind sight, one feels that Dhoni should have promoted himself or Raina in place of Yuvraj Singh, who, clearly, needed some match practice.
India cramped to 130 after losing four wickets. But had no strong bowler of the calibre of Malinga or Kulasekhara, who did a fantastic job of keeping a line outside the off stump and of Yorker length just shy of being declared wide ball. Surprisingly, Dhoni just played and missed, connecting just one for a single.
It would have been a perfect farewell for the Sri Lankan duo had both of them stayed back to get them over the rope. But even as Mahela fell to a false shot off Suresh Raina after a run-a-ball 24, Sangakkara coolly played himself in and got to his unbeaten half-century, guiding Sri Lanka to a six-wicket victory with 13 balls to spare. After featuring in four final matches since their 1996 victory in the 50-over format, it probably needed such a huge testimonial match to finally break the hoodoo.
Another positive for the Lankans was their fielding, cutting boundaries and converting twos into ones made them look a fit unit for the finals. At stake was the grand send off to their two stalwart who have served the team throughout their career. The Lankans fought tooth and nail for this victory to hail the duo.