If cricket is about problem solving, Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to have all the answers at the moment. Ahead of the final, Dhoni had said that winning the toss was 60% of the job done, and putting 270 on the board increased the chances of success to 80%. His batsmen went one better, posting 319 for five, a score that has never been successfully chased at the R Premadasa Stadium. Kumar Sangakkara’s team was unable to rewrite history, succumbing to 273 and defeat by 46 runs.
For the ninth time under Dhoni, India had emerged victors in a limited-overs episode. There was nothing certain about this outcome, especially in the light of India’s thrashing at Lanka’s hands on Saturday. But resilience has not been in short supply in this group.
Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid set the tone with an unhurried 95-run stand. Dhoni then took the game into his hands, walking out at No. 3, as Tendulkar ground the bowling. Even as Dhoni gave way to a tentative Yuvraj Singh, the run-rate barely suffered. Yuvraj slowly rained some familiar blows and some unfamiliar ones to reach 56. Tendulkar, who had the 36-year-old Dravid running for him at one stage, provided the backbone with 138.
Keen to buck the trend of teams batting second, Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan charged off their blocks. A barrage of strokes left the fast bowlers exhausted and Dhoni was forced to turn to Harbhajan Singh early.
When Sangakkara tried to fend off a RP Singh full toss, he lost control of his bat and watched it crash into his stumps. He left cursing his bad luck, but he knew that it was not only the bat that had slipped out of his hands. Thilina Kandamby (66) and Chamara Kapugedera (35) fought but they were faced with a mountain that wouldn’t be climbed.