Sri Lanka deserve all credit for maiden World Twenty20 title
The result of an India-Sri Lanka final was once again decided by a six. While MS Dhoni slammed one off Nuwan Kulasekara at Wankhede in 2011 to give India their third ICC trophy, Thisara Perera launched Amit Mishra straight down the ground, to give Sri Lanka their maiden World T20 title at Mirpur on Sunday night.
As Sri Lankan fielders ran on the field to break into a celebration, Indian fans were left wondering about what went wrong. Wasn`t this the team against which MS Dhoni and his boys had an incredible record?
India were the clear favourites to win the ICC World T20 final. They were up against Sri Lanka – a team which had struggled against the Men in Blue in crucial final matches in the past, and considering the way Indian batsmen had performed throughout the series, MS Dhoni looked all set to add another ICC trophy to his overcrowded trophy cabinet.
Ahead of the final, everybody spoke of how the Lankans needed to pull their socks up as none of their batsmen had performed consistently. While both the teams had some world class spinners, the form of Indian batsmen gave them a major advantage over their opponents.
What happened during the match was an entirely different story.
India were brought out of their comfort zone the moment Malinga won the toss and put them to bat first. After a rain delay, winning the toss was crucial for India, not just from the Duckworth-Lewis`s perspective, but also because they had won most of the matches while chasing.
Just 23 runs from the powerplay had already sent them on backfoot. Things would have become worse, had Malinga caught Kohli off Herath`s first ball of his spell, when the right-hander was batting on just 11. Kohli not only hit Herath for a six off the last ball of the same over, but made sure he capitalised on that dropped chance, as he once again unleashed some breathtaking strokes against the Lankan bowlers.
Even though Kohli tried his best to increase the run-rate, a scratchy innings from Yuvraj Singh hurt India badly. The left-hander hadn`t been in best of form, and to promote him ahead of Suresh Raina in a big game is something which was beyond understanding.
But then the southpaw alone shouldn`t be blamed for the loss. With Kohli at the crease, India were expected to change gears after the 15th over. The stylish right-hander did exactly that as he collected 16 runs from Kulasekara`s third over.
However, India scored just eight runs from the 17th and the 18th over and when Dhoni came to the crease, Sri Lanka were yet to bowl 11 deliveries. Kohli and Dhoni – two of world`s most dangerous batsmen were at the crease and those 11 balls would have produced a minimum of 35-40 runs on any other day. But the momentum shifted towards Sri Lanka, as they once again executed a plan to perfection.
After conceding an expensive third over, Kulasekara bowled the penultimate over of the innings – a brilliant one which produced just four runs for India. The plan was to bowl all the deliveries outside the off-stump, as Sri Lanka had their six fielders square of the wicket.
Kohli played just four of the last 11 balls and scored three runs, while Dhoni scored four off the seven balls he faced. There are not many occasions when MS Dhoni is left helpless at the crease in death overs and none of his shots clear the boundary.
But Sri Lanka bowled with a brilliant game plan in the 19th and the 20th over – something which shifted the game their way. Once India posted a paltry total of 130 runs, celebrations in the Lankan dressing room would have possibly already begun.