ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v Sri Lanka, final, World Cup 2011, Mumbai
'India were a step ahead of us' - Sangakkara
April 2, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, took heart from his team's performance to reach the final of the World Cup but described the defeat to India in Mumbai as "hugely disappointing". It was Sri Lanka's third defeat - starting with the World Cup in the West Indies, followed by the World Twenty20 in England - in a global tournament final since 2007 and Sangakkara regretted not grabbing what he said was a "once in a lifetime opportunity."
"It is hugely disappointing but satisfying as well in a strange sense because we understand the magnitude of what we've done to get here," Sangakkara said. "We can be proud of the way we played our cricket. We tried exceptionally hard to win games, but today unfortunately we couldn't convert."
Sri Lanka had the upper hand after Mahela Jayawardene scored a sublime century to take them to 274 and Lasith Malinga struck early to remove the Indian openers. There had been confusion during the toss, which had to redone after, as Sangakkara claimed, Dhoni thought his counterpart had called incorrectly, while the others weren't able to hear the call. Sangakkara won the second toss but said the score his team managed after batting first wasn't adequate given the depth of the Indian batting line-up. "Batting first and putting those runs up on the board was never enough the way the Indians batted," he said. "Their batting is unbelievable. They probably have the best top seven in ODI cricket."
Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni struck match-winning 90s to get India's chase on track after those two early setbacks, and Sangakkara admitted his bowlers didn't apply enough pressure. "After we got the first two wickets, we weren't really tight enough with our bowling. We bowled quite a few loose balls and Gambhir and Kohli made us pay for that. MS really stuck it out there and saw through the tough periods. Once they matched and then went past the asking-rate, it was very difficult to pull them back.
"It was a great pitch, it lasted throughout. It turned a little in the middle part of the innings but the Indians are great players of spin. We didn't bother them too much today apart from Malinga's two wickets at the start."
Dhoni's calm leadership under pressure has come in for praise this tournament and Sangakkara joined in. "Dhoni has been the epitome of captain cool. He's intelligent, very smart in the way he does things.
"It's a combination of various factors that has helped them win in different conditions. We also have played very well against them, but playing at home they took that inspiration that one step further."
Sangakkara also lauded Jayawardene for helping Sri Lanka overcome a slow start and set a challenging target. It was the first time a batsman ended up on the losing side in a World Cup final after scoring a century. "It was an exceptional innings. He made this wonderful stage his own. He really showed us what he is capable of and what a classy player he is. He got us to where we reached, otherwise we were looking at a total of 240-250.
"It doesn't matter how often you play each other. It is the World Cup final. You need to do something special. We had that in Jayawardene and they had that in Gambhir and Dhoni. They were one step ahead of us."
Sangakkara also acknowledged the contribution of Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, who will be stepping down. "Trevor grounded us very well. A lot of old-fashioned hard work, a lot of common sense. He's a man of few words but what he does say really counts. He's been one of our most successful coaches."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
Also: the fastest Indian to 50 wickets, and Yasir Shah's unwanted "double-hundred"