Mathews’ absence hurt Sri Lanka in World Cup 2011 final - Sangakkara

Angelo Mathews had played a key role for his side in the semifinals, but was forced to miss the final due to a quadriceps muscle injury.

M. S. Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara posing with the trophy at Wankhede Stadium on the eve of final, on April 01, 2011.   -  Vivek Bendre

The absence of Angelo Mathews due to injury hurt Sri Lanka’s chances in the final of the World Cup in 2011, former captain Kumar Sangakkara has said.

Mathews played a key role for his side in the semifinal win against New Zealand, but was forced to miss the final due to a quadriceps muscle injury. Sangakkara, in a conversation on Instagram with India off-spinner R. Ashwin, revealed Mathews’ injury forced him to opt for a 6-5 team combination. It also forced him to choose to bat first after winning the toss.

“In that World Cup final, that’s the biggest thing I look back and think...You can talk about drop catches and all of that happens. But the composition of the side and the fact that we were forced to make the change was to me the turning point,” Sangakkara said in the latest episode of Reminisce with Ash.

Mahela Jayawardene’s unbeaten 103 went in vain as India hunted down 275 fairly comfortably in the end. Gautam Gambhir set up the chase with a knock of 97 before M. S. Dhoni finished it off in style, smashing Nuwan Kulasekara for a six down the ground to clinch the World Cup title. Dhoni finished with an unbeaten 91.

“But for 100 per cent, if Angelo [Mathews] had been fit, I know for sure we would have gone for chase. I’m not sure whether the result would have changed. That balance of team that Mathews would give at seven really was a bonus,” Sangakkara said.

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“If you take our entire campaign, whatever we did Mathews’ overs and his ability to bat with the tail and read situations was an incredible bonus to us. He was a young chap who came into the side and from day one he could read situations. It’s just instinct, how to up the rate, how to control the bowler, when to accelerate.”

Confusion at the toss

Ashwin asked him about the controversial toss when the coin had to be flipped twice amid the cacophony of the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. “The was crowd was huge. It never happens in Sri Lanka. Once I had this at Eden Gardens when I could not talk to the first slip and then of course at the Wankhede. I remember calling on the toss then Mahi wasn’t sure and said ‘Did you call tail?’ and I said ‘No, I called head’. The match referee actually said I won the toss, Mahi said [I] did not. There was a little bit of confusion there and Mahi said ‘Let’s have another toss of the coin and heads went up again’,” he said.

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“I am not sure whether it was luck that I won. I believe probably India might have batted if I had lost.”

The loss prolonged Sri Lanka’s wait for its second world title; it won its only title in 1996. “Whether we win or lose, we have this equilibrium on how to take a win or loss. The smile hides a huge amount of sadness, of disappointment, of thinking of 20 million people back in Sri Lanka who had been waiting for this for so long, since 1996. We had an opportunity in 2011, opportunity in 2007, then T20 opportunities in 2009 and 2012,” Sangakkara said.

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