Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara believes Sri Lanka's experience of playing in finals proved decisive as they managed a narrow two-wicket win against Bangladesh in the final of the Tri-Nation Tournament. "It is tough on them [Bangladesh] especially after trying so hard," he said, "but it was not to be. I guess our experience in finals won us the game."
Having shot out Bangladesh for 152, Sri Lanka were tottering at 6 for 5 at one stage during the run-chase, but Sangakkara's gritty 59 off 133 balls, along with a cameo from Muttiah Muralitharan, proved to be crucial as Sri Lanka held on for victory.
"I just wanted to bat as long as possible and try to get as close to the target as possible," said Sangakkara. "We rarely see a collapse like that and it was unexpected because we have some of the best batsmen in the world but that's cricket and we had an off day. The key was to try and fight it out."
When Sangakkara departed with the score on 114 for 8, the game was by no means secure, but Muralitharan's breezy 33 off 16 balls saw the visitors through. "It was amazing. I thought he should have been the Man of the Match," said Sangakkara. "He turned the game around and won us the final. We are used to seeing him win matches with his bowling and now he has won us a game with the bat."
Mahela Jayawardene, was more relieved than happy after Sri Lanka had come out trumps. "We probably did not deserve to win after doing the things we did today but at the end of the day we won and hats off to Kumar [Sangakkara], [Farveez] Mahroof and Murali. I never thought we would win but we kept fighting, fighting and fighting and came out winners."
"It was a small target and we wanted to be positive. I don't think we handled the situation very well. We knew that the wicket would have something for the new ball bowlers and the Bangladeshi bowlers bowled in great areas and run scoring was very tough."
It was the perfect way to cap off the tour of Bangladesh, having previously won both matches in the two-Test series and Jayawardene was pleased with the efforts of the team. "It was a great final and a very good game of cricket," he said. "Our guys bowled well and they were brilliant throughout and put the ball in very good areas. Then from 6 for 5, I think we handled it pretty well to win. We have spent four weeks here now and played a Test series and a tri-nation tournament. We set out to win both and we have done it. As a captain I am very happy."
He also commended Bangladesh on putting up a strong challenge, even managing to beat them in their league fixture, and singled out Mashrafe Mortaza and Shakib Al Hasan for praise.
"They should be very proud of their performance especially in the Tri-Nation Tournament. Shakib was brilliant in the Tests and the ODIs, but I think the unsung hero was Mashrafe. Every game, be it the Tests or the ODIs, he created opportunities with the new ball and took crucial wickets. He was consistent throughout the tour.
"Bangladesh have had some very good individual performances and they have improved a lot in the last two years. They realize now that they can beat any of the top teams and the key for them would be to continue working hard and improving."