Sangakkara: The better side won
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara extended a gracious tribute to India after they defeated his side by six wickets in the World Cup final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni contributed 97 and 91 not out respectively to lead the hosts past Sri Lanka’s total of 274 for six - which had been underpinned by Mahela Jayawardene’s sublime unbeaten 103 from 88 balls.
Sangakkara was understandably disappointed by his side’s second successive World Cup final defeat - they also lost to Australia in 2007 - but recognised the quality of India’s display.
“It’s been a great tournament for us, everyone has chipped in and it’s been a great team effort to get here, but the way India played today, they really deserved the tag of favourites,” he said.
“I think both Sri Lanka and India will be very proud of the cricket we played today. I am very proud of everyone - especially Mahela Jayawardene - who rose to the occasion and got a great hundred.
“It was great for us to experience the final. We are disappointed, but I think the better side won. All I can say is congratulations India, you were fantastic today.”
Sangakkara, who made 48, pinpointed Sri Lanka’s failure to build on the early dismissals of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar - who both fell to Lasith Malinga - as a key factor in their loss.
He added: “275 was great, it was a very competitive total. In a final, runs on the board is very important, but then again you also have to penetrate with your bowling attack.
Lasith Malinga did the job for us with the first two wickets, but, with that Indian batting line-up, you need to take at least three to four by the time the first 20 overs are up.
“Gautam Gambhir was outstanding, he’s one of the best players I have seen play the game as a left-hander. He and Virat Kohli, with that little partnership, scored a lot of boundaries that they probably shouldn’t have and then MS walked in and I think he understood exactly what he had to do and did it for India.”
Gambhir did survive a let-off on 30, when Nuwan Kulasekara spilled a difficult diving chance at long-off.
“People don’t try to miss catches, but you’ve got to take those half-chances in crucial games,” Sangakkara admitted.
“But I think where we really lost the game was the way Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni batted. They were absolutely fantastic, they did exactly what was required of them and when you have such an awesome batting line-up, sometimes you feel as if 270, 300 is not enough.”
Sri Lanka’s defeat ensured legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan ended his glittering international career on a sad note.
Muralitharan was unable to make an impact with the ball as India hunted down their target, but Sangakkara was quick to defend the 38-year-old’s contribution.
“It’s one of those rare days when he hasn’t really done the job for us, but it happens maybe once in 100 games,” he said.
“We’re going to miss him terribly. Unfortunately we couldn't give him a great send-off but that’s the way it goes. We were outplayed and we have to accept that.
Sangakkara also rejected the suggestion that Muralitharan, who was hampered by a series of injuries throughout the tournament, was not fit enough to feature in the final.
“He’s our best bowler, even if half-fit,” the skipper added. “But he was fine, he was almost at full fitness when he played today. I don't think it was an issue.”