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ICC World Twenty20 Final: Sangakkara Lifts Sri Lanka To 138

By on June 21, 2009

ICC World Twenty20 Final - Kumar Sangakkara

Sri lanka 138 for 6 (Sangakkara 64*, Mathews 35*, Razzaq 3-20) v Pakistan…

A captain’s innings from Kumar Sangakkara and a late charge by Angelo Mathews boosted Sri Lanka to 138 for 6 in the ICC World Twenty20 final after the top order were blown away by Abdul Razzaq. Riding on the huge surge of confidence Pakistan gained from dismissing Tillakaratne Dilshan for a duck, Razzaq continued to make up for lost time after two years out of international cricket as Sri Lanka fell to 32 for 4. However, Sangakkara and Mathews added 68 in 43 deliveries to give their powerful attack a total to defend.

Without the captain, Sri Lanka would have been waving the trophy goodbye, but Sangakkara ensured he was batting in the closing overs to give himself the chance of a late charge. He paced his innings expertly, reaching fifty off 44 balls despite the problems that surrounded him. Mathews’ display, though, was more unexpected and he was largely responsible for taking 17 off the final over, which included a six over deep midwicket, and the final five overs brought 59 runs.

In a stirring atmosphere, Pakistan were on top of their game from the start as 17-year-old Mohammad Aamer belied his inexperience with a tone-setting opening over. In a clear plan he bowled short at Dilshan who was distinctly discomforted by the approach. Against the fifth ball Dilshan tried to take the initiative with a scoop over short fine-leg, but only managed to pick out the man on the edge of the circle. He had middled virtually all his attempts at the shot during the tournament and what a time for it to go wrong.

With the tournament’s leading run-scorer heading off Pakistan were buoyed. In a change of order Jehan Mubarak was promoted to No. 3, but he couldn’t survive the second over when he came down the pitch and got a leading edge into the covers to give Razzaq his first.

Sri Lanka briefly rallied as Sanath Jaysuriya suggested he could marshal a turnaround. Favouring the leg side he swung Razzaq for six with a forceful short-arm pull and collected four more next ball, but it was a short-lived response when an inside edge crashed into the stumps. Razzaq was flat on his face at the moment of dismissal after slipping in his follow-through but it was Sri Lanka who were feeling unsteady.

Younis Khan went on the attack and his decision to post a wide slip paid rich dividends when Mahela Jayawardene steered the ball straight to Misbah-ul-Haq at ankle height. Razzaq was playing his cricket with a new lease of life after being giving another crack at international level. He wasn’t part of the original squad, but Yasir Arafat’s injury that prompted the switch now looked like a stroke of fortune.

Four wickets inside the Powerplay meant Sri Lanka had little choice but to play it safe as Younis turned to his spinners. Sangakkara was calmness personified amid Sri Lanka’s problems aware that the hopes of a decent total rested on his shoulders. He and Chamara Silva added 35 in six overs, but there was no let-up from the Pakistan attack.

Umar Gul, who came on in the 12th over, struck almost straight away when Silva’s weak pull looped to midwicket and Isuru Udana, surprisingly pushed ahead of Mathews, was twice beaten for pace. All Pakistan’s bowlers worked to a plan and even Gul momentarily shelved his yorkers to utilise the pace and bounce from the surface.

It’s hard to keep Shahid Afridi out of the action and just when he looked as though he would finish wicketless a googly was too good for Udana. Sri Lanka were fading quickly at 70 for 6 and Sangakkara desperately needed someone to stay with him.

Mathews has brought all-round value to Sri Lanka’s side and provided a sensible ally for his captain as he worked the strike while Sangakkara located the boundary. Than Mathews took over the striking with a thumping drive off Saeed Ajmal and a leg-side heave off Gul, who wasn’t quite at his pin-point best at the death.

Under normal circumstances you would still say the total shouldn’t be enough, but this is a final and with that comes a huge pressure. And, if any attack, can defend 138 it’s Sri Lanka’s. This could still be a classic.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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