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Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
April 6, 2014
Manjrekar: Versatility in SL bowling came through
Even at a time when yorkers were being pumped under India's bats towards the end of their innings, that Sri Lanka could fluff their lines occurred to one and all. By 10:26pm on a refreshingly cool Dhaka night however, the unease of the last seven years had flown away into the dark sky. Sri Lanka let emotions take over only in the end, as they remained true to practicality for much of the final, easing their path to a first major title win since 1996.
While much of the talk would surround Yuvraj Singh's inability and Sri Lanka's efficiency with the ball in the last four overs, the 131-run chase had "tricky" written all over it. But when you have won every crucial game in the previous ten weeks, the habit takes over.
When they lost four wickets, conventionally it should have been Angelo Mathews to walk in but Lasith Malinga decided that they should attack with Thisara Perera, and it paid off handsomely.
"That's why we always trust Thisara Perera," Malinga said after the game. "We know that we have to get 7.5. Thisara has the ability to clear the boundary, whether there are fielders there or not. That's why we wanted to send him in before Angelo. He did good for us."
Kusal Perera and Tillekaratne Dilshan went after the Indian seamers but even when they were dismissed, you somehow knew that Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene would not let this one slip out of their grasp.
The pair added only a run-a-ball 24 for the third wicket but Jayawardene's batting spoke of how calm he felt even in exceptional pressure. Sangakkara, who had made a first-ball duck in the Asia Cup final just under a month ago, kept the shape of the innings and started taking chances as soon as he realised Thisara Perera was hitting it well.
"What I did differently was that I probably watched the ball a bit better today," Sangakkara said. "I was a bit more positive. Earlier when I went in at two down, I was cautious, trying to build a partnership, not being positive and showing intent. That's something I changed today."
Malinga was pleased to see his two most experienced players ensure a smooth path, despite wickets falling at times to slow them down. He also said that the team wanted to win the game for Sangakkara and Jayawardene.
"I think Sanga has been struggling because in a few matches he didn't get runs but I am always talking with him. I know he only have to get one knock, then we will win the match. Mahela also showed his experience. We all had to do something special today, all the support staff, team members, [for these two players]. That's why we were doing our best."
Sangakkara said that he only let emotions take over after they had reduced the chase to single-digit at the start of the 18th over. "I am a great believer that if you get emotional you have to use it to your advantage. If not, then forget about being emotional.
"When we had 11 to get and I top-edged a boundary, I knew it was a couple of shots away, and with Thisara at the other end it was a done deal. That's when I thought I could show some emotion. Sometimes you have to pump yourself up to get over the line. That's what happened today."
This is perhaps what Sangakkara has learned from Bridgetown, Lord's, Mumbai and Colombo in the four finals that Sri Lanka has lost. While they were crushed by Australia's might and Pakistan's momentum in the first two finals, they had one foot in the door in the 2011 and 2012 finals against India and West Indies.
This time, they let their emotions wait and ensured their plans were fitted into the situations they faced. They had a winning feeling, having won every trophy that has come their way during this season in Bangladesh, before this final, and they applied every lesson from these months of staying together, and the seven years they were second best.
That tag can now be stripped away from their skin.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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