Sri Lanka's players lift Kumar Sangakkara, as they acknowledge the crowd after their win over India in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup final match in Dhaka. (AP Photo)
Three stalwarts of the game probably played in their country’s colours for the last time. In victory, Sri Lanka’s inseparable duo Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene celebrated their retirement from T20 Internationals with their first world title, ending their country’s 18-year wait.
Read: The match as it happened
In defeat and worse still in a completely off-colour show with the bat, this was probably the last time India’s hero in their first World T20 title in 2007 and their second 50-over World Cup victory in 2011, Yuvraj Singh, turned up in the country’s colours. He was ignored for the New Zealand tour and was then left out of the one-day squad for the Asia Cup. He is the biggest buy for this year’s Indian Premier League, but as he walked out of the stadium with the Sri Lanka cricketers dancing in the background, it seemed the left-hander knew it too.
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.
Despite an undercurrent of differences in the team, the seniors rallied around the duo. Lasith Malinga standing in for Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Tillakaratne Dilshan came out backing each other and it lifted their show on the field despite the slippery conditions.
Both Malinga and Chandimal held the trophy together. Sangakkara had a lot to say to Chandimal as they hugged after the match. From a point of breaking apart, the trophy turned it into a tale of sacrifices and team spirit.
Sangakkara, Mahela and Malinga taking the victory lap on the shoulders of their teammates made it a night to remember for the Lankan fans here and back home where they had set up giant screens across the country to show the match.
It was sad to see Indian flags being waved when Yuvraj, after struggling to 11 off 21, was dismissed and was walking back to the dugout. It was sadder to see him booed when his name was called for the individual medal at the presentation ceremony.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will feel what India missed out on. The title for India on Sunday could have sent both the team and the captain into the record books and it would have been difficult for others to imagine, forget match.
Dhoni defended sending in Yuvraj by saying he needed some time to get his eye in and that the Sri Lankans bowled exceedingly well.
All eyes will now be on the IPL now and on the 50-over World Cup Down Under early next year.