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Sangakkara leads Sri Lanka to T20 World Cup glory
Kumar Sangakkara ended Sri Lankan heartbreak of losing in World Cup finals when he led the Lions to their maiden T20 World Cup with a 6 wicket victory over favourites India in Dhaka.
Sri Lanka had been on the losing end of four limited-overs finals since 2007, however Sangakkara made sure it didn’t happen again as he led the run-chase in his final T20 International with a superb 52 off 39 deliveries.
It was a fitting farewell for Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in their final T20 International, with both players announcing before the tournament that they would call time on their T20 careers to prolong their Test playing days.
Victory for India would have seen Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team hold all three limited overs World Cups following their win in the 2011, 50-over World Cup and their Champions Trophy victory last year, however it wasn’t to be after they set a well below par target of 131 that was chased down with 13 balls to spare.
India took first strike and they didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough, when Angelo Mathews clean bowled Rahane in the second over.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli steadied the ship for the Indians, moving the total to 64 before Sharma skied one of the bowling of Herath, the Indian opening failing to capitalise yet again on a good start.
Kohli has been in the form of his life and continued in that vain, singlehandedly taking India to 130 off their alloted 20 overs with 77 off 58 balls before he was run-out on the final delivery.
The Delhi-born batsman has been nothing short of spectacular during the tournament, contributing 319 runs at an average of 106 with a strike rate of 130 an incredible return in this format.
Much credit must go to the Sri Lankan bowlers, they might not have taken many wickets however not one went for more than 30 runs in their four overs restricting the attacking Indian line-up to a manageable chase.
India would have felt they were still in the game after dismissing Perera in the second over, Dishan in the 6th, Jayawardene in the 10th and Thirimanne in the 13th over to leave Sri Lanka reeling on 78/4, however the experienced Sangakara knew exactly what was required to see them home.
A cameo from Thisara Perera with 23 off 14 relieved some of the pressure on Sangakkara shoulders to help see the Lions over the line, and a cool $1m win bonus promised to them by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board.