India v Sri Lanka, World T20, final, Mirpur April 5, 2014

'We have the winning feeling' - Malinga

For almost two months, Sri Lanka have been successful in a number of high-pressure games in Bangladesh. It indicates that they are developing the knack of taming those pressure moments to their advantage

Given how the tour of Bangladesh has gone for Sri Lanka from February, a fitting end would be clinching the World T20. Their poor track record in tournament finals has been discussed at length, but this "winning feeling", as described by their captain Lasith Malinga, has the ability to alter history when they take on India in the final on Sunday.

They have repeatedly said that they would do anything to win, particularly after the designated T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal stood aside from the playing XI due to poor form. The decision itself says much about their psyche, but there have been progressive signs.

For almost two months now, they have played a number of high-pressure games, and come out successful in all of them. It started with the two last-ball wins in the T20 series against Bangladesh back in February. They had come back from the dead in the ODI series too, and enjoyed an unbeaten run in the Asia Cup.

"We have the winning feeling among everyone - batsman, bowlers and support staff," Malinga said. "We are trying to play our best cricket, and we are winning. We are looking forward to giving our best tomorrow.

"We won the Asia Cup here, and tomorrow is a good opportunity for us to prove ourselves once more. Everyone trusts us to give our best. If we do that, given that we're used to the pitches and the conditions here, we should have a good chance."

In the World T20 so far, they overcame New Zealand in a low-scoring final group game to make it to the last four, where they put pressure on West Indies in a rain-hit game.

Sri Lanka have been carried by contributions from several players and haven't relied on just a few individuals. Kusal Perera and Mahela Jayawardene have been in good batting form while Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath have stood up when needed. Herath's spell against New Zealand stood out while Mathews made important runs in the semi-final, just when West Indies were looking to restrict them.

What has stood out for Sri Lanka is their aptitude at handling the tough situations and ensuring they see it through till the end.

They were slightly lucky to start off with in the first T20 against Bangladesh, when Thisara Perera's waist-high full-toss off the final ball was miscued by Anamul Haque, giving the bowler a return catch. Two days later, Sachithra Senanayake hammered Farhad Reza behind square-leg for a boundary when two was needed off the last ball.

Those two successive last-ball wins invigorated the team, who fought back from a sorry 67 for 8 in their next match. The allrounder Perera again made the difference with a counterattacking 80, after which the bowlers squeezed the game out of Bangladesh's grasp. That game alone demoralised the home team, and it was inevitable that Sri Lanka wouldn't be pushed in the next two games.

The momentum carried over to the Asia Cup, where they won close round robin games against Pakistan and India, before cruising past the former in the final. These wins indicate that Sri Lanka are starting to enjoy the tight moments a little more, and having won so many of them here in Bangladesh, they are quite prepared for it. Their most remarkable turnaround has been winning the first ODI against Bangladesh after slipping to such a precarious position.

Perera and Senanayake were helped by dropped catches but since you make your own luck, Perera ensured it worked in their favour. Having a team like Sri Lanka 67 for 8 should have been enough for the captain Mushfiqur Rahim to stifle them further. But as Perera attacked, Bangladesh backed off, to the point that the momentum had shifted quite forcefully by the time Sri Lanka ended their innings.

At the start of the Asia Cup, when Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal led Pakistan's fightback in a big chase, Sri Lanka stayed calm and somehow managed a tight over here, a crucial stop there, producing a breakthrough finally, and winning that opening game.

Against India, it was Kumar Sangakkara who stayed cool with a superb century, but Perera and Senanayake once again ensured that Sri Lanka finished the game, shortly after he got out in the closing stages.

With the attention on Sangakkara and Jayawardene playing their last T20 for Sri Lanka, what matters is how the team's journey ends this season, and they have had a successful last two months in the country, taming the pressure moments.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    Even if SL wins this final...These indian keyboard warriors will sure find something to complain about.

  • Mohammed on April 6, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    Being a Indian fan, I believe that both teams have equal possibilities to snatch the title, however it totally depends on how Indian bowling will restrict Lankan's other wise it would not be a cake walk for India. Also in subcontinent conditions both teams have the abilities to set and achieve the big target. It totally depends on the team which gives the BEST for the day. Good Luck India, Our support is always with you, no matter how you perform.

    It seems Lankan's are aggressive to take the 2011 revenge. But for me there is nothing like revenge and it is just a game, they team which performs good will win.

    It seems luck is working for Lankan's in last two games with NZ as it was not that difficult for batting line up like NZ where Anderson's enjury also a key here and with WI there was a possibility with SAMMY that he could have pulled it off if the play has happened.


  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    Here i would like to give few facts abt this tournament. 1. Pakistan never won a match against India in any of the World Cup till now. 2. SAF never crossed the Knock Out stage in any of the world events since 1998. 3. Srilanka never beaten India in any Knock game in the world events since 1996. 4. Srilanka never won a ICC Trophy since 1996. India made sure that the above first 2 points in their favor by beating Pakistan in Group stage and SAF in Knock out stage. So obviously India will maintain the same thing for 3rd and 4th point too.

    Apart from the above facts, Malinga never gave his best in any of the matches he played against India. So i have the strong feeling that India will win this Final as usual. This is not because of the Over Confidence, but for the character what India showed so far in this tournament. We destroyed Murali's fare well in 2011 WC final. Not its time for Sanga and Mahela's farewell to be destroyed. I feel sorry for Lankans.

  • Abhyuday on April 6, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    @Shumbu- india has the experience of playing in finals amd winning it , the pressure will on srilanka to perform well in big finals and india has done they home work well, prediction is the team who handle the pressure will win the world cup t20.

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    lankans stand no chance except if one thing happens. Mendis demolishes Indian batting. But then knowing srilankans they might not even playe mendis.

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    Cricket fans have given comments on today.s final.ofcourse this is a very big match to both teams.both team are capablle of upsetting each other in a very good all depend on how they bat and bowl.from the srilankan side sangakara should play at no.4 hope both jayawardena and sanga will give there last t 20 best for the srilankan.if srilanka gets indias inform batsmans wickets earlier.then there want be much tension to srilanka.any how we expect good match hope there is no Rain in mirpur.good luck to best team,

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Sri Lankan cricket team should win for Sri Lanka. They should drop Sanga and bring Thisara Perera play at 4 or Sanga should open the batting with Kusal so he can play freely. He has been pathetic at this format in all tournaments (IPL & SriLanka) shouldn`t have been in the side at all - pathetic selection panel. First choosing Chandimal as captain and now he is not playing ( made a total joke out of it ) every cricket channel laughing at Sanath. Sanga should step up in this game otherwise it`s a total joke coming to this tournament head of Tharanga / Mubarak / Angelo Perera / Jeevan Mendis ( they are Sri Lanka`s best 20/20 players by far not Mahela and Sanga ( They play because of Selectors) Why others are better than these two , others are capable of playing big shots and these two don`t have the technic to play big shots. They got paid big money in IPL and they disappoint those teams. They are not out of form heading to this final, they are not good enough for this format. G`luck SL

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    I fear the pressure because of twin towers last game could be causing some trouble for others in Srilankan team. So it could be a blessing for Team India.

  • KISH on April 6, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    India doesn't rely no Kohli alone. They have match winners in Dhoni, Rohit, Yuvraj and Raina. New guy Rehane also playing well and I expect him to top score in this match with his ability to attack spin.

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    Team composition is important for SL. They must play an extra batsman in Priyanjan and cout that their top five bowlers- malinga, Kula, Herath, Etc deliver with Dilshan as aback up to bowl one or two overs. Extra batsman is amust. Also both Mahela and Sanga should not be frenzy to plat arresive shots in the power play. They should be in till the 13 the over minimum. 16th over is even better.

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