The groundsmen had just taken the covers off the pitch. India coach Duncan Fletcher was having a long hard look at the wicket, but Lasith Malinga was busy with his routine. As skipper of the Sri Lanka team for the World T20 final he did not even bother to look at the wicket. He was counting his steps for his bowling run-up and marked the end with his boot.
A groundsman walked alongside with a bucket of lime to mark the spot. Malinga took the bucket from him, took the brush out and marked three different spots, one where he usually begins his run-up and the other two in straight lines with the white marks for the umpires to call a wide.
While the Sri Lanka players were celebrating their triumph late on Sunday night, manager Michael de Zoysa explained those lines were to help him go a little wide of the stumps and bowl just out of the batsmen’s reach.
The Australians had perfected the art of bowling fast and wide of the off-stump so that it is difficult for batsmen to reach out to the delivery. Over the years during the IPL, Brett Lee has shown his perfection with that line for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Malinga took it a step further.
On Sunday, during the death overs, he bowled his favourite yorker length deliveries wide of off stump. There was no intention of taking a wicket, just frustrating the batsmen and choking the scoring rate. James Faulkner is also capable of doing that, but his ploy did not quite work against Darren Sammy, mainly because of the long reach of the West Indies skipper, who hit him for consecutive sixes while exposing all three stumps.
In the last four overs on Sunday, India scored just 19 and that is where Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys lost the plot.
“The last four overs is where we want to score as many runs as possible and that was an area where we couldn’t capitalise on. At the same time you have to give credit to the Sri Lanka bowlers. I think they executed their plans brilliantly. They were looking for wide yorkers and all the balls were perfectly bowled. I think they bowled only one wide ball or something,” said Dhoni, trying to defend India’s poor batting performance.
Other than the in-form Virat Kohli, no other India batsman even looked like taking the attack to the Sri Lanka bowlers.
“Sri Lanka’s strategy wasn’t a surprise because they always try to do this. It’s just that their execution was really good. You could see what was happening.
It’s something they keep on doing. You may be noticing it now because it’s the World Cup final. Otherwise they are a side which keeps doing all these stuff, they are fantastic, they keep changing their plans when needed,” said the India skipper after the loss.