It is an overstatement if one is reminded that there are 120 balls for each team in a T20 game. India’s innings in their final against Sri Lanka could not have been different. When a team is chasing a target then it is known what the players are required to do. One can plan the pattern of scoring and decide when to step up the tempo of scoring. But if a target has to be set, which India were required to do against Sri Lanka on Sunday, then it must be challenging. In India’s case, out of the 120 balls, Virat Kohli took 58 and scored 77. Even if two wide-balls, bowled by Sri Lanka are counted, then in 20 overs, the remaining Indian batsmen took 64 balls in adding just 53 in taking the score to 130, which also included 6 extras from wides, byes and leg byes. Any team aspiring to win a T20 game has to do much better than that. In limited over formats, the last overs usually produce runs at a far higher rate than the rest of the innings but Indian’ did the opposite. They blew their chances away and added a mere 19 runs in the last 24 deliveries. If they lost the T20 world cup, the only reason is needless caution in protecting their wickets, when plenty of batsmen were still available to bat.
Any team, which thinks it can win a T20 game by setting a target of 131, must have an awesome attack consisting of unplayable or mystery bowlers, with a reputation of creating fear in the minds of the opposition; someone like a Dale Steyn, a Sunil Narine, a Lasith malinga or a Shane Warne. India had no such luxury, though in this tournament India’s bowlers have bowled with more credit than any time in the past. But 130 was never a match winning score and the determined Sri Lankans saw to it that they romped home with ease and safety.
Indian began badly, losing Ajinkya Rahane after 9 balls in the innings. Then, when Rohit Sharma was out in the 11th over, the score was a paltry 64. By scoring 29 off 26 balls, Sharma too, did not make any exemplary contribution It was at this point that a push was really required from India. But the incoming batsman, Yuvraj Singh, probably thought he was walking into the middle of a test match innings. By plodding and pushing through defensive strokes, he not only didn’t score himself, he denied the well-set Kohli the much needed strike. Yuvraj singh’s labored 11 runs consumed 21 balls and when he was out in the 19th over, the match was already out of India’s grasp. Of the 11 balls left after Yuvraj’s departure, the much fancied MS Dhoni, who promoted himself ahead of Suresh Raina, had faced 7of them to make just 4 runs. And what did he do? He plodded like Yuvraj, swung in air and score two singles and a 2. Worst, he denied Kohli the strike in the last over, except the last ball, when Kohli got run out. But for Kohli’s courageous knock, India would have been in a much bigger trouble.
When Sri Lanka came on to bat, they lost Kusal Perera early but Mahela Jayawardene and Tilakaratane Dilshan went about businesslike. They didn’t have to take any risks and there was never any hurry, because India had provided enough cushion. Though Dilshan got out after scoring a quick-fire 18 off 16 balls, Jayawardene made an unhurried 24 at run-a-ball and Sangakkara with Thisara Perera carried on till the end, even after losing Lahiru Thirimannae. They were two swan songs from Sri Lanka today, both of which happy tidings. The two great Sri Lankan batsmen, Mahlela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara played their last T20 games for Sri Lanka and their efforts helped their team in winning the first ever T20 World Cup. And not only that, Sangakkara went away with even happier memories of being named the player of the match for his 35-ball 53 not out.
Earlier in the day, the Women’s T20 world cup also came to an end with Australia scoring an easy victory over England. Unfortunately, the event remained a sideshow with the two teams playing to empty stands. It has a pitiful story for women’s cricket and it is time something was done to make it more important in future. England were sent into bat by Meg Lanning, who won the toss for Australia. The English women batted poorly and could only put on 105/8 in 20 overs. This was too small a total for the final game. Australia overwhelmed the target with 4.5 overs to spare, led by skipper Meg Lanning’s 44 off 30 balls, which included 2 sixes and 4 fours. It was a Hat-trick of World T20 titles for Australia, who have previously won both editions of this event.