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.
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.