Sri Lanka v West Indies, Final, World Twenty20, Colombo October 7, 2012

We failed under pressure - Jayawardene


Mahela Jayawardene has admitted his side faltered under pressure in their World Twenty20 final loss to the West Indies in Colombo, after having made an exceptional start to the match in the first 12 overs. The loss is Sri Lanka's fourth in major finals since 2007, and they have now been bridesmaids in two World Cups and two World Twenty20s in the last five major tournaments.

Sri Lanka had surged through the Super Eights and secured a tough victory over Pakistan on a dustbowl to progress to the final, but could not quell a West Indies resurgence in the title match. With West Indies mired at 48 for 2 after 12 overs the title seemed in Sri Lanka's grasp before Marlon Samuels bludgeoned three sixes off Lasith Malinga's second over on his way to a match-winning 78 from 56 balls. Jayawardene, who announced he was standing down as T20 captain, felt Sri Lanka should not have allowed West Indies, who were also 87 for 5 in the 16th over, to reap 89 from the last eight overs.

Sri Lanka lost Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over in pursuit of 138, and were never able to catch up to the asking rate. Jayawardene did not see a trend in Sri Lanka's inability to win finals, but said his side had responded poorly to West Indies' middle-over onslaught, and marked out the three-over stretch between the 13th and 15th over, which cost 39, as the turning point of the match even though Ajantha Mendis took three wickets.

"I think we tried very hard, but this match changed in three or four overs in the middle," he said. "In the pressure situations we couldn't control the match. Marlon Samuels batted really well and he took it away from us a little bit. But when we were put under pressure, we didn't react well to that. When those small mistakes add up, that's where you lose a match like a final, and that's what happened to us."

Jayawardene has been at the helm for two of those four finals losses, while Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan and Malinga have also played in each loss. In this tournament, Sri Lanka had lost only a seven-over match against South Africa in the group stage, and arrived in the final as the form team, and favourites with home advantage. Jayawardene said this defeat was different from finals failures in the past, because Sri Lanka had dominated the opening exchanges.

"We played well right until the final. Every defeat has been different. How we approached a couple of the finals, we did not start well and we kept chasing the game and it was tough for us to get back into it. I thought today we started well. Marlon took a gamble after the 12th over and it paid off for him. Those were individual performances that you have to give credit to. Under pressure he put his hand up and performed and that crucial moment he controlled."

Samuels was dropped on 20 by Nuwan Kulasekara as he attempted a difficult running chance on the long-off boundary in the tenth over. Samuels made 58 from the next 22 balls he faced and propelled West Indies beyond a run-a-ball - a run rate they had not looked like achieving in the early stages. After Samuels' demise in the 18th over, Darren Sammy propelled West Indies towards 140 with 26 from 15 balls.

"We dropped a half chance and then they played well in the next three overs," Jayawardene said. "I think that 20 or 30 runs was the difference. If we had kept them to 110 or 120 on this pitch we could have competed better in this match."

Jayawardene admitted that despite falling away in the field Sri Lanka were capable of chasing 138, but needed a strong start to do so. Ravi Rampaul's superb delivery to uproot Dilshan's off stump forced the hosts to be more conservative during their Powerplay, and the middle order were unable to reverse a flagging run rate amid a clatter of wickets.

"We wanted to attack. The first six overs, it was crucial for us to get a good start, particularly with the hardness of the ball. But when Dilly got out in the first ball of the second over, that kept us back because Kumar and I knew we had to consolidate and we couldn't lose another wicket in the first six overs.

"We were looking at 45-50 runs in the first six to put pressure on them, but that didn't materialise. They bowled really well and took pace off the ball. They didn't bowl their quicks and kept bowling their spinners. We never had momentum going in that chase. We had to make sure we had a good start going and we lost wickets regularly."

Malinga's second over disappeared for 21, but Jayawardene defended his decision to bring him back into the attack. Malinga's two remaining overs went for 29, and he finished with his worst ever Twenty20 figures, having taken no wickets for 54 from his four overs. Jayawardene still had overs from Akila Dananjaya and Nuwan Kulasekara at the finish in addition to Thisara Perera, who has barely bowled throughout the tournament.

"After the first 12 overs, Malinga had only bowled one over. I knew that they would have to play some shots, so I gave the ball to my number one bowler to take wickets. But they played well in that period and Lasith couldn't bowl two good overs then, but that's cricket. I thought we'd have a chance to take wickets if Lasith bowled because Marlon didn't play Lasith well in our match in Kandy, so I had thought about that when I gave him the ball.

"If I knew the script was going to be like that, I probably wouldn't have bowled him."

Jayawardene said the loss would be particularly painful for having come on their home turf, in front of a hugely expectant crowd of 35,000. Sri Lanka had defeated West Indies by nine wickets in the Super Eights - their most comprehensive win over top-eight opposition - in addition to having defeated them by the same margin in a practice match.

"As a team we gave everything we had. In a big tournament, we wanted to win to give something to the fans who have been cheering us. I'm very disappointed, we had a full house here as well. We just didn't execute a good gameplan and we weren't ruthless enough. So we're very disappointed that we couldn't give the fans what they wanted, and that hurts a lot."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 9, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    I have to agree with Sidath346! Before finals, Mahela was boasting about maintaining standards by taking the team towards final - four times! It was the clue for lack of 'mental fitness'. Why on earth Mahela asked Malinga to bowl when two overs yielded in high batting scores? Writing an exam is also handling pressure - producing a thesis is also handling pressure too - Mahela did on the 7th October and his best friend in 2011 - simply gave up in front of all supporters - Intolerable! Now they want to give something back to nation - in what way? There was no match in the end - Look at women's T20 finals - the difference was 4 runs! Arjuna is still live! Why didn't you get advice on mental toughness from him? Was it costly? Would such action have an impact on status-quo of the administration body? Where was the intelligence? In the end - a simple question to be asked of - Did the national team represent its people? 1. Yes 2. No The answer is NO - How many times - 4

  • V on October 9, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    As an Indian fan, I would like to congratulate both the WI and SL teams and fans. It was quite an absorbing final with twists and turns, which is great because sometimes finals can be dull and one-sided. Well played to West Indies; after all the severe disappointments of the past 15 years, I think no one would begrudge them this success. Cricket needs a vibrant, successful West Indian team to add to the spectacle of the global game and I am very happy for Darren Sammy and co. Sri Lanka were probably the best team in the tournament and dominated the first half of the final, but somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; they do need to look at the mental side of their game and also at how brittle the middle order is under this kind of pressure. I think the generation of Jayawardene/Sangakkara/Dilshan may well be destined to retire without a major trophy to their name since I doubt they will get another chance in a final soon.

  • Miles on October 8, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    We are relying on our lower order bigger batsmen like Perera to hit a six. Not a single batsmen in this side can hit a six out of the play area except for Mathews. Our batsmen needs to do more strength training and get some nutrition as well as learning to middle the ball better. Also learn to be more gutsy in the middle order. Our senior players think reverse sweeps, little nicks and scoops will always do the job. Yes we need them. Our players do it too often because of their mental and physical disability to take on bowlers directly. You don't have to be tall like Chris Gayle to hit a straight six. Look at Aravanda, Sanath, Kaluwitharana, Herchele Gibs, Warner, Dhoni, Sewag even Kulasekera, Ruwan Kalpege, Gangully back then. None of these guys are big but certainly has strength and being able to middle the ball. Even Gayle was very nervous. Skinny Tharanga hit a 121 meter sixer in Zimbabwe against India. I think we need some good young (under 19) players with guts.

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2012, 23:27 GMT

    @Miles100: Sports psychologist? - you're spot on. This, and meditation combined should be an integral part of the player's daily routine.

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2012, 23:20 GMT

    Dilshan, please use your feet: either go forward or fully back; Our SL boys lost their heads again. We need as sports psychologist for the SL team. In a country where it is practiced widely ,meditation should be an essential part of the SL players daily work out.

  • Sunny on October 8, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    Cricket is for Sri Lanka is the straw for the drowning. Everyone is hanging in to it and it is natural we will fail under pressure.

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    Malinga didn't need to take wickets. He merely had to keep the run rate down. Whatever happened to the variations, slower balls etc? Going for high risk yorkers wasn't necessary. Also in hindsight, Kapugedera could have been valuable in this match situation.

  • Gamika on October 8, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    It has all been enormous fun and great fight between two best teams in the world. Though SL sits as runners up for the fourth time in a world event, I salute whole team and Mahela for their effort. SL been a small Island archived a lot all these years after winning the world cup of 1996. Some egomaniacs has criticize the performance of Individual players and questioned the decisions which made by Mahela during the final. But remember WI was 34 runs after 10th over. They couldn't score a run from the bat till 17th Ball. That's the power SL has with their baling department. Unless WI would've smashed SL like Aussies.. Darren Sammy led them to a first world title since 1979… this is a great achievement after 33 years! Congratulations WI !!.....

  • Bandara on October 8, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    It was just another dat for de srilankans

  • Ajith on October 8, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    Feel v sad for Mahela as he was majestic in his batting and his leadership. There will be mistakes that will be talked about, but some are obviously more talked about once the event had happened. For example going for Malinga was a very rational thing to do, as time and time again he has been a bowler who pulls the game back in our advantage and I believe Marlon Samuels had a big day and it worked for him. With the loss of Dilshan so early, I think Mahela took too much weight into his own head and Sanga could not do well with the bat too. I would have expected Jeewan to come after Sanga, as Jeewan is a busy cricketer and would have helped rotate the strike, more than Mathews. Hats off to Mahela for the leader he is and for the silky touch he brings to his batting even in this version, which is generally more slam bang cricket. Mahela is a class act with the bat and super leader on the field. And if Srilanka were to lose, there no deserving team than WI's to lose to. Thank you

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