India v Sri Lanka, World T20, final, Mirpur April 6, 2014

Sri Lanka savour long-sought success


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'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 here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 8, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    @Mervin Sl does not need Sanga and Mahela to chase 130 in a T20 :D

  • SUDHANSHU on April 8, 2014, 20:53 GMT

    Every team works hard, but luck plays it part too! Sri Lanka was destined to win this t20 and Sammy summed it up perfectly. Mahela and Sanga deserved this one, just as SRT deserved world cup! Congrats Sri Lanka....However, never underplay importance of luck...

  • Rajiv on April 8, 2014, 17:53 GMT

    @imtiazjaleel: Place Malinga at the top of the list because of just three games. Then where will you place Steve Waugh, Cronje, Flemming, Ponting and Dhoni. SL had two great captains in the form of Ranatunga and Jayawardene. Malinga is just three games old. You are so funny. Of course SL won through their hardwork and talent and it was a better than India in the tournament, but if you talk about luck we can also tell SL is lucky because rain helped them in semi final. Luck is something which you will not have control of like rain or target change after D/L calculation, or bad umpring decision.Dropped catch is under a players control and you cannot call it luck.

  • Vinod on April 8, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    Congrats to the legends and Malinga and Nuwan! although disappointed for India not to win it but i had reasons to feel happy when i happend to see the tired but glowing faces in the SL camp esp. the very sight of the two legends of the game who always brought immense richness to the culture of the game. the way the captain and Nuwan bowled also deserve a special mention... well done, team SL. you deserve it!!!

  • syed on April 8, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    Who is saying DHONI has won all finals. If you look at the last two IPL finals he lost both of them and even did not make the finals of the champions league. I believe it is the team who wins the match not the captain alone. If a captain is alone responsible for winning or losing, then we should keep MALINGA on the top of list of captains. SL as a team has played excellently and won the match and Malinga is right they won because of their hard work not luck. India were lucky though, because Kohli was dropped when he was only 11.

  • Anwar uz on April 8, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    I went to the Stadia to watch two of my favourite players bat. Kohli and Sangakara. Thinking of Law of Probability to catch up with both of them. I expected Kohli to fail and Sangakara to succed on the Final. Thanks God !! both of them gave outstanding performances and I really enjoyed their batting though the gamewas a foregone conlusion after IND could manage 130+ but what happened after the game really warmed my heart, the Indian players showed so much respect to their rival players despite losing. Both are great teams and maybe again the Law of Probability caught up with India !!

  • Android on April 7, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    @Mervin Timnal. Don't be so angry dude. its not good for your health. Playing with hatred mind won't do any good. As Sanga said, be humble when u succeed. & no matter how talented u r if u don't know how to play as a team its no use- most of the time! winning is a team work, not some thing singular. Though u r not strong enough to accept the defeat, yesterday SL outplayed Ind in all departments. ( may be v were bit bad in fielding - we dropped few catches). by winning yesterday we would not say we r going to be the best cricket team EVER as some Ind fans like u believe. we always try to play good cricket. so if we play good we will succeed. if not we can learn from it &come back strongly. unlike u all, we always love our players in both victory & loss. we never pelt stones on our players houses.

  • ESPN on April 7, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    some says he can't rate SL above IND.don't waste ur time doing so.bcos ICC is doing it and SL is the no. 1 in T20.accept it. similarly IND is the no 1 ODI (50 over game) team. stop hating teams.,SL deserve win and many more to come in future. so much talant in these players. good luck boys.

  • Dummy4 on April 7, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    Dear SL fans, unfortunately SL won against India, I accept Indian team of course have some weakness like all teams, but SL cricket begins to collapse without sanga and mahela after here, hope to see India repaying SL in 2015 WC and everywhere they clashes with IND. SL a team without great batsmen. finally good luck SL from India.