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Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
April 6, 2014
'Hard work, not luck, paid off' - Malinga
"There were two gentlemen who gave a lot not only to Sri Lankan cricket but to cricket as a whole. May be the Almighty wants them to win a World Cup and leave on a high. That's why He put his hand in this so that they get another match."
When Darren Sammy made this prediction at the end of the first semi-final, one felt how strongly the West Indies captain believed in destiny, particularly after a hailstorm hit the Shere Bangla National Stadium to give Sri Lanka a win through D/L, and depriving the defending champions of an assault in the last few overs.
Sri Lanka's captain Lasith Malinga said the win had nothing to do with luck, but a lot of hard work and planning which brought them the victory. Either way, destiny or not, it was down to winning the big moments, and that's where Sri Lanka stepped up.
Sammy's statement also brought to mind the sheer respect that world cricket has for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Sammy was right in the end. Perhaps it was all meant to be, as Sri Lanka won a major tournament final, after four failed attempts in the last seven years.
Both had announced their retirement prior to the start of the World T20, drawing a bit of flak for taking away too much attention. The team however, said they wanted to win it for their two ayyas, the word for elder brother in Sinhalese. Sangakkara said that they won it for every Sri Lankan.
"It is wonderful that the side wanted to win it for us," Sangakkara said. "But there are 20 million other people to win for. It's not just about me or Mahela.
"It's about an entire squad, everyone who stands with you and behind you. We get noticed because it's our last game, but at the end of the day everyone has played a part."
Sangakkara paid tribute to everyone who supported Sri Lanka cricket, and the cricket team, through thick and thin. There have been tough moments, particularly the four tournament final defeats over the past seven years.
In 2007, they were steamrolled by Australia but the momentum was with Sri Lanka in 2009 when they lost to Pakistan in the World T20 final. In the 2011 World Cup final, they seemed to have India on the mat but were pushed out of that contest by MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir. At home, in the last World T20 final, Sri Lanka failed to chase a moderate target against West Indies.
"This is the first time I have been a part of a team that has won a World Cup," Sangakkara said. "It's 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 team-mates, but from your family, your fans, the support staff.
"You can never do anything alone. You may be the best batsman in the world or the best bowler in the world, but you can't do anything without support. At moments like this you have to look back, reflect and be thankful for that support, because without that you wouldn't be here. It's been an amazing journey. It's time to walk away, and to walk away like this is even better."
Before Sangakkara spoke, Malinga said that he backed his experienced players to come good on the big day, as he understands their ability having observed them for the past decade.
"I've played over ten years in this team, I know every single player, their ability, what they can do," Malinga said. "I enjoyed my captaincy in the last three games, I know exactly what particular players have what ability. I used that experience during my captaincy and I was successful.
"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. I don't believe in luck."
Sangakkara, in a way, echoed Malinga's viewpoint when asked if the game of cricket had finally given back to him and Jayawardene after years of serving the game. He said it was about finally taking an opportunity.
"I don't think the game owes us, or any player, anything. Our job is to try and play it as best as we can, and walk away hopefully having made a positive impact.
"The game gives us the opportunities and it's up to us to try and take them. We had four opportunities before this, and today we took it. You need a bit of ability, luck, planning, execution. Right place, right time, right game."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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