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Difficult to express this feeling: Sangakkara

Sri Lankan ‘keeper-batsman ecstatic as side’s hard work pays off

The big win is finally here for the islanders. After four years of being in World Cup finals, Sri Lanka has finally got the monkey off their back. They last won a World Cup in 1996, and after 18 long years, Sri Lanka have managed to get another World Cup title under their belt.

It was a fitting farewell for two stalwarts of Sri Lankan cricket in the shortest format of the game – Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Sangakkara, who scored a match-winning half-century in the final against India on Sunday, was humbled by the fact that his side wanted to win the World Cup for the veteran duo.

"It is wonderful that the side wanted to win it for us," Sangakkara said. "This is the first time I have been a part of a team that has won a World Cup. It is hard to describe exactly what you feel, but you feel humble. You realise how difficult it is to get here, how much support you need, not just from your teammates, but from your family, your fans, and the support staff.”

Sri Lanka has every right to be proud. They have trounced a side that was clinical throughout the tournament, a side that had not faced a loss in the 2014 WT20 until the final. For Sri Lanka, the hard work had finally paid off. "Anyone can say anything. Some say winning is luck, some say winning is talent. I really trust that we didn't have luck. We worked hard, we know our ability, we can do that, everyone is talented, that's why we won the match.” Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga said.

Sangakkara was not in the best of forms and was hardly amongst the runs throughout the tournament. But come the big day, one can always bank on their experienced players to come good, according to Malinga. "I think Sanga has been struggling because in a few matches he didn't get runs, but I am always talking with him. I knew he only had to get one knock, and we would win the match. I've played over 10 years in this team, I know every single player, their ability, what they can do. I used that experience during my captaincy and I was successful.”

Sri Lanka’s run chase was nothing less than dramatic. The Indian bowlers tried to strangle them by taking wickets at crucial junctures, but Sangakkara kept his cool at one end, and he was ably backed by some power hitting by Thisara Perera.

"That's why we always trust Thisara Perera," Malinga said after the game. "We knew that we have to score at a brisk pace. Thisara has the ability to clear the boundary, whether there are fielders there or not. That's why we wanted to send him in before Angelo. He did good for us."

Sangakkara also shed light on his batting approach in the final. "What I did differently was that I probably watched the ball a bit better today," Sangakkara said. "I was a bit more positive. Earlier, when I went in at two-down, I was cautious, trying to build a partnership, not being positive and showing intent. That's something I changed today."

You usually don’t see an animated Sangakkara. The left-hander kept his emotions in check during the finale and only let loose once his side was guaranteed a victory. "I am a great believer that if you get emotional, you have to use it to your advantage. If not, then forget about being emotional. When we had 11 to get and I top-edged a boundary, I knew it was a couple of shots away, and with Thisara at the other end, it was a done deal. That's when I thought I could show some emotion. Sometimes you have to pump yourself up to get over the line. That's what happened today."

The Sri Lankans were certainly pumped. They took a victory lap, carried the Sanga-Mahela duo on their shoulders and showed how much the victory meant for the side. After all, two of their best campaigners were signing off in style in the shortest format of the game.

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Yuvraj tried his best: Dhoni

Skipper refuses to put the blame of losing the final on struggling all-rounder

MS Dhoni put India’s loss to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final to their poor batting in the middle-order. He also said scoring only 19 runs in the last four overs hurt the team’s cause in the end.

Dhoni said his batsmen tried their best to get the runs flowing but were held back by some fine bowling from Sri Lanka. The Indian captain rued that none of his batsmen with the exception of Virat Kohli looked in fluent touch.

The captain, however, defended under-fire Yuvraj Singh, who scored a painstaking 11 runs off 21 balls and has looked out of sorts in all matches but the one against Australia.

"It was an off day for Yuvraj,” Dhoni said. “He tried his best but it's not easy to come in and start slogging from ball one," When asked about Yuvraj’s future in the Indian team, Dhoni said, "Indian cricket season is over...The next selection is far away, so let's not talk about it."

Talking about the angry reactions from the fans towards Yuvraj’s non-performance, Dhoni said, "Look, you need to understand that fans can be angry but they can't be more disappointed than the individual who is out there in the middle.

"As a player, you don't want to do badly in front of 40,000 people. You don't want to drop catches, but off-days happen. And it can happen with any athlete. May be it was an off-day for him [Yuvraj]. "Fans will be disappointed but it is the player who is always more disappointed than the fans,”

Dhoni also refused to put the blame solely on Yuvraj for the team’s below par score of 130 and said the Lankans deserved credit for their disciplined bowling.

"It's a team thing. So let us not talk about individuals. We wanted to score as many runs as possible in the last four overs but credit to Lankan bowlers. They bowled perfect wide yorkers. I, for one, know that Malinga bowls these superb wide yorkers. They got only one wide during that phase. They executed their plans brilliantly.

"We were a bit disappointed at the break for not having scored more than 130 but then we were thinking about Champions Trophy. It was also a 20-over match but here we had one fielder more outside the circle," the skipper said.

Dhoni has, in the past, successfully opened the bowling with R Ashwin, but he chose not to adopt that plan in this game. When asked why, he said, "We wanted to use Ashwin in the middle overs against left-handers. So we couldn't start with him. But the pacers went for runs and I had to bring him early and he also got a wicket. Also the wicket changed a bit under lights as the ball started coming onto the bat.”

Taking the positives out from the tournament, Dhoni said he was glad with the team’s consistency throughout the tournament and was particularly chuffed with his spinners’ performance.

"The spinners have bowled well as they got a bit of help and turn from the track. Virat has been brilliant for us as he has been in the last one and half years and even more. We were consistent from start and hence there weren't too many changes in the playing XI."