Heartbreak hotel: 2014 World T20 final

Sri Lanka wins their first T20 World Cup, in their fifth ICC Final since 2007
 
 
The writing was on the board for most Indian fans as soon as they scored a paltry 19 runs in their last 4 overs while batting first — with Virat Kohli still at the crease, but helpless and frustrated. 
 
Let us not go into the statistics of this performance and first admit that Sri Lanka bowled brilliantly at the death, with a strategy and clear plan. India were outplayed on the day by a team that wanted to win more. Who can blame emotional cricket fans, for it was Lanka’s fifth ICC Final since 2007, all four of which they had lost to different teams, including the final of the 2012 T20 World Cup at home to West Indies, and the 2011 Cricket World Cup (50 overs) to India in Mumbai. 
 
They wrote their own destiny this time, but not without a few key moments/points in the game that defined their extraordinary performance:
 
Rahane’s stutter
Ajinkya Rahane is a different man when he opens the innings for Rajasthan Royals. Yesterday, it showed that he was playing in his first major ICC final, pressured and nervous at the crease. Perhaps MS Dhoni and co. could have rolled the dice and stuck to Dhawan’s scratchiness at the crease. Even if he is unsettled himself, atleast he unsettles the bowler too. Rahane played like a man with lot to lose, wasting 9 balls before playing onto his stumps.
 
Rohit’s end
Rohit Sharma can be blamed for the disaster that followed in the final overs. He was well-set on 29 and the more prolific partner with Kohli, but he got frustrated and threw it away just when they needed to move on. It was a tame dismissal to Herath, who had bowled two dots to him. Rohit’s reaction on getting out summed it up: he grimaced, as if expecting this, and walked back. That is also the difference between Rohit and Kohli: Kohli really hurts IF he does throw it away like this, he rarely forgives himself. For Rohit, it was all part of the plan. He was disappointed, but it didn’t seem to hurt as much. It must have hurt, though, when he was sitting in the dugout in shock and watching Yuvraj dig a hole for India. 
 
Yuvraj at no. 4
We know that Yuvraj has been poor against spin bowling through his career. One can rarely remember him charging a spinner, forget lofting him into the stands. It is a mindblock, not a technical issue. So with Herath and Senanayake bowling in tandem, it was Dhoni’s mistake to back Yuvraj again and send him to bat at 4. Of course, this is one of those ‘in hindsight’ opinions, but in hindsight, it has never been clearer. Yuvraj never got a move-on, and Dhoni was left to rue his own faith in the left-hander. 

Malinga’s outside-off Yorkers
Unplayable. It was a clear strategy that seemed to tie down the Indian batsmen so much, and not only Yuvraj. It worked against Kohli and Dhoni in the end too—with the Indian captain rarely managing to get bat on ball. It was a demoralizing end to a promising innings, one that spelled doom as soon as Kulasekera managed the outside-off full-bowling without an issue. 

Jayawardene’s silken strokes
Mahela walked in with a target in mind, and went about it in the most beautiful fashion. He blocked, defended, cut and swept calmly, to a run-a-ball 24 that was crucial, because it set up Sangakkara at the other end and showed that there were no demons in the pitch. He blunted the threat of Mishra and Jadeja with skillful batting and finally won a world title for his team in his last-ever T20 game. 
 
Swift End
The end was near for India when Sangakkara and Perrera went about things, but it got even swifter when every edge rolled down to the boundary. It didn’t even go down to the final over, and Sri Lanka pulled off their most important chase ever.

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