Lasith Malinga credited the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) for Sri Lanka’s amazingly tight bowling that suffocated the strong Indian batting line up in the final of the ICC World T20 on Sunday.
Malinga who has been a permanent fixture in the strong Mumbai Indians line up since the inaugural IPL tournament, said that it was the experience he gained through the IPL that helped him to lead his time to victory over India in the final.
He did not forget to say that he learnt “almost everything” he knows, only through his IPL experience.
“I think it has been extremely valuable for me to have played in the IPL. It was only because that I had played in the IPL that I could manage the bowlers properly against India and get a thorough understanding of how the (Indian) batsmen operated. All that knowledge I had, helped us immensely in this victory. It is through the IPL that I learnt almost everything that I know. It helped us beat India. I am extremely glad that I played in the IPL” Malinga said when a journalist asked him how they restricted such a strong batting line-up to just 60-odd runs in the final ten overs, the time usually when all teams resort to all out slogging, throwing caution to the wind.
Kumar Sangakkara cracked a spectacular half century which earned him the man of the match title in the final, but it was the bowlers who actually earned the victory for Sri Lanka with a stupendously tight effort, a fact which even Sangakkara himself admitted.
“Chasing 130, you'd take that any day on any wicket but to restrict a side like that we needed something special and our bowlers produced it" he said after the match.
"The last four overs that we bowled were immaculate. I haven't seen four overs like that bowled to a guy on 70-something off 50 balls and MS Dhoni, who can hit any ball out of the park. For them not to be able to get bat on ball, it showed the quality of our bowling and the hard work and planning that had been done ahead of the game” he added, pointing out it was that unbelievable death bowling which earned them glory.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, hailed widely as the greatest finisher in the game could manage just four singles off seven balls while Kholi who faced just eight balls in the last four overs, scored mere seven runs. Though an off colour Yuvraj Singh has been roundly criticised by all quarters for consuming 21 balls to make 11, the other batsmen did not fare much better in the final analysis. It was actually the stunning bowling performance by Sri Lankans that put shackles on free scoring Indians.
Indian skipper Dhoni also praised Sri Lankan bowlers. "The last four overs is a place where we really want to score as many as you can and that was an area where we couldn't capitalise. At the same time you have to give credit to the Sri Lankan bowlers. I think they executed their plans brilliantly. They were looking for wide yorkers and all the balls were perfect wide yorkers. I think they only bowled one wide or something. Other than that they were right on the mark, which made it further more difficult for our batsmen to score freely" He said.
Sri Lanka gave away a miserly 19 runs in the last four overs bowled by Sachitra Senanayake, Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara.
Sangakkara graciously diverted the spotlight away from himself and chose not to bask in the glory of the victory’s aftermath alone.
"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." He said.
Having played the last T20 International game of his chequered career, Sangakkara did not want to grab even the credit for his own achievements selfishly, insisting that several people were behind his success.
"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” Sangakkara said adding that was the perfect moment to call it a day.
"It's been an amazing journey. It's time to walk away, and to walk away like this is even better,"
Sangakkara said it was great see that the team won the world title for him and his good friend Mahela Jayawardene, but re-dedicated the win for the 20 million people of Sri Lanka.
"It's wonderful that the side wanted to win it for us. 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 also revealed that he did not let himself become emotional over the fact that it was the last T20 game of his international career.
"Not till the end. 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" he explained.
Asked if he believed the game owed that world title to them for all what he and Jayawardene contributed to the game over the years, Sangakkara asserted that the game was bigger than any individual.
"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," Sangakkara said.
"We had four opportunities before this, and today we took it. You need a bit of ability, luck, planning, execution. Also being at the right place at the right time," said Sangakkara summing up the world title win. (Channaka de Silva reporting from Dhaka, Bangladesh)