T20 World Cup 2014: The Islanders come to the party

A consistent performer at the World T20, Sri Lanka finally got its due in the shortest format of the game in the 2014 edition in Bangladesh after falling agonizingly short of the title in 2009 (final), 2010 (semifinal) and 2012 (final).

Hero’s welcome: Sri Lanka's captain Lasith Malinga acknowledge fans as they travel on an open top bus outside the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake after winning their maiden World Twenty20 title.   -  REUTERS

A consistent performer at the World T20, Sri Lanka finally got its due in the shortest format of the game in the 2014 edition in Bangladesh after falling agonizingly short of the title in 2009 (final), 2010 (semifinal) and 2012 (final).

A formidable bowling comprising Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath saw it through the group stage. Sri Lanka pipped South Africa by five runs in its opener owing to some tight bowling at the death. A hapless Netherlands then crumbled in 10.3 overs for 39, the lowest score in T20 World Cups. Following that, Rangana Herath’s stupendous exploits of 5/3 saw the Kiwis crumble to 60 in a chase of 120, with Kane Williamson scoring 42 of those runs.

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The Islanders advanced to the semifinal having topped their group with three wins from five matches, going down in a lone contest against England.

Facing off against defending champion West Indies in its last four clash, Sri Lanka rode on some much-needed good fortune to book yet another final berth with a 27-run victory by the rain rule.

Needing 81 runs from 37 balls with Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy batting and Andre Russell yet to come, some may argue that it could have gone either way had it not been for the rain. Nevertheless, the Islanders now faced a tall order of taking on an unremitting and unbeaten India in the final. However, the Indians never found momentum on a slow Dhaka pitch, as they huffed and puffed to 130/4, with Virat Kohli’s dogged 58-ball 77 the only silver lining.

Save for Kusal Perera’s early dismissal in the second over, nothing came between Sri Lanka and the coveted trophy as Kumar Sangakkara steered the chase with an unbeaten half-century before Thisara Perera sealed the deal with a six.

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After four heart-breaking losses in the last seven years in ICC tournaments, the Lankans had finally got their hands on a title.

The victory served as a fitting swansong for Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene — the workhorses of Sri Lankan cricket for whom it was their last T20I game for the island-nation.

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