Two years ago there were tears aplenty in the Emerald Isle as Sri Lanka lost the finals to the West Indies however yesterday there were tears of joy, as Lasith Malinga hoisted the World T20 Cricket Trophy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A determined Sri Lankan team paid fitting tribute to two of their legends in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene who played their last T20 match yesterday. In fact, the former was the star of the show, as he scored an unbeaten 52 to take Sri Lanka to a six-wicket victory over India.
The Indians were chasing an unprecedented three World titles - as they are currently owners of the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. They however scored an inadequate 130 for four off their 20 overs and saw Sri Lanka march to the victory target under the wise old head of the left handed Sangakkara.
After brilliant bowling by the Lankans restricted the Indians to 130 for four, despite a attacking 77 from 'player of the tournament' Virat Kohli, the Sri Lankans went about the target in a methodical way and got home in the end.
There was an early hiccup as Kusal Perera fell for five but Jayawardene joined Tillekeratne Dilshan to calm the nerves. The duo added 36 runs for the second wicket before Dilshan left for 18. The Indian spinners pulled the game back somewhat with the wicket off Jayawardene (24) with the score at 65 but Sangakkara was there to guide the ship.
He found an able ally in Thisara Perera and they easily got past the victory target. Sangakkara's 52 not out came off 36 balls with six fours and a six, while Perera who hit the winning runs made 23 off 14 balls with three sixes.
Earlier, brilliant bowling at the back end of the innings by Sri Lanka, saw India realising just 19 runs from the last four overs. Even with the dangerous Virat Kohli and the best finisher in the game Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the crease, the Sri Lankan pair of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekera triumphed.
India had gotten off to a slow start after losing Ajinka Rahane early and found scoring difficult on a pitch where the ball was not coming on as they would have liked.
Rohit Sharma trised his best and allowed Kohli to settle. He slammed 29 off 26 balls with three fours. He and Kohli took the score to 64 at the midway stage before being parted.
At this point Kohli started to blossom and played some wonderful shots. He was able to put India in the perfect position to launch an assault in the final overs but the Sri Lankans were too good. India erred by sending in the out of sorts Yuvraj Singh and he scratched around for 11 off 21 balls. While Yuvraj was at the crease, Kohli was denied the strike and after 16 overs the right hander was 70 not out. When the innings closed he was run out for 77 off 58 balls with five fours and four sixes. The last four overs of the innings brought only 19 runs for the Indians.
After the game Malinga said :"I was really lucky to captain in the last three games. Today, we thought it was Sanga and Mahela's farewell match.. the boys thought we needed to do it for them. Last few overs we bowled really well. Me, Kula and Sachithra. Mahela and Sanga are world-class batsmen and it was a good opportunity for us to be able to play with them. They are still playing Tests and ODIs and the younger players need to pick all that they can from the two."
Dhoni said his team was about 15 runs short :"In the middle overs, our batsmen tried our best to get going, but we couldn't convert the good start. We could have always got those 10-15 runs, but cricket is about those runs. The last four overs they executed their plans very well and for our side that doesn't play scoops well, that worked for them. Malinga with that slingy action kept bowling it wide. It was a perfect game for them."
He praised his star batsman Kohli :"Virat has been brilliant in the last few years. He is someone who makes most of the opportunity. The good thing is that he plays authentic shots and still scores runs. He is got a bright future ahead of him."
India vs Sri Lanka
R Sharma c Senanayake b Herath 29
A Rahane b Mathews 3
V Kohli run out 77
Y Singh c Perera b Kulasekera 11
M Dhoni not out 4
Extras b2, lb2, w2 6
Total 4 wkts (20) 130
Fall of wkts: 4, 64, 119, 130.
Bowling: N Kulasekera 4-0-29-1, A Mathews 4-0-25-1, A Senanayake 4-0-22-0, L Malinga 4-0-27-0, R Herath 4-0-23-1.
Sri Lanka inns
K Perera c Jadeja b M Sharma 5
T Dilshan c Kohli b Ashwin 18
M Jayawardene c Ashwin b Raina 24
K Sangakkara not out 52
L Thirimanne c Dhoni b Mishra 7
T Perera not out 23
Extras lb2, w3 5
Total for 4 wkts (17.5ovs) 134
Fall of wkts: 5, 41, 65, 78.
Bowling: B Kumsr 3-0-18-0, M Sharma 2-0-18-1, R Ashwin 3.5-0-29-1, A Mishra 4-0-32-1, S Raina 4-0-24-1, R Jadeja 1-0-11-0. Result: Sri Lanka won by 6 wkts to take World T20 title. Man of the match: Kumar Sangakkara. Player of the series: Virat Kohli.