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T20 Aftermath: We wanted it, but Didn’t Deserve it
by San Te Jaya [MP] (Senior Member)
May 20, 2010

Sri Lanka started the 20/20 Worldcup magnificently even though the joy was short-lived as BlackCaps came firing and won the game 1 ball to spare.

It was all because of the form Mahela Jayawardena carried from IPL after he was promoted to open the innings for Kings XII Punjab. 80 runs in vain in the 1st game though the next 100 came in handy (somewhat) in the 2nd game to be qualified to super-eights. Mahela’s form was the topic of the tournament going into the super eight since nobody came close to his performance with the bat then.

Sri Lanka started the super-eights campaign in style with a straight-forward win against the hosts. Again, Mahela had to be in the picture. Mahela was the leading run scorer by a huge margin with all the countries had played equal number of games in the tournament thus far. Some people even forgot about the middle order as ‘it was only 20 overs’ and ‘Mahela can score a 100 odd in all matches’.

The toughest game came along as Sri Lanka front upto Australia. Losing the toss in a very good track, Australia elected to bat as they never knew how to chase a total even in 50 over format. However, Sri Lanka dominated the 1st 10 overs and in usual Sri Lankan fashion took the next 10 quite easily and Australia capitalized with 101 runs in last 9 overs. This was disappointing to see as it was all over and the predicted totals were around 100 when they were 4 down for 30 (in the 5th over). I think picking Welagedara for the whole tour was a mistake; more than Sanath’s free ride to West Indies. When Sri Lanka lost Mahela in the 3rd over “it was all over”, as they were never used to see Mahela back in the dugout before 15th over up to that point. Sri Lanka stumbled to 87 (an unlucky figure to Austrailans) in the 17th over.

Sri Lanka were in a situation of being kicked out of the tournament after their 1st loss in the super-eights; however, India made things a much easier by losing to West Indies. Sri Lanka didn’t have to win against India to send India back home a little early but to lose only by 19 runs. I’m confident that our countrymen didn’t play Cricket to lose at all; so, I thought they didn’t even know that figure until the 19th over of the Sri Lankan innings. Anyway, our middle order came to the rescue after another failure by the top scoring batsman. Mahela showed signs of getting too carried away with his form as he edged one to the 1st slip off Ashish Nehra who conceded 16 runs (including 2 sixes off 1st and the last ball) in the last over at the end. Chamara Kapugedara, another talent from the hill country scored brilliantly under pressure to get Sri Lanka out-of-jail and win the game in style; India went home with just 2 wins from the group stage.

Sri Lanka, being the finalist in the last 20/20 World Cup; it was the same route but in different situation to be in the semis as last time as then it was a confident side winning all the games up to that point. I feel that Sri Lanka underestimated what England had to offer; even though they were the top qualifying team from the 1 half of super-eights. Winning the toss, skipper made a bad call electing to bat, not assessing the pitch conditions well. Sri Lanka only managed a dismal 128 in 20 overs as almost everybody struggled with English bowling attack who used the pitch conditions pretty well at the start and varied accordingly towards the end of the innings. One bad call didn’t help Sri Lanka’s losing cause, even though England completed the game in 16 overs.

The consistency wasn’t there for Sri Lankans even though Sanath Jayasuriya showed some of it averaging 3.75 and with a highest score of 6. When you look at the statistics, Mahela stands out with the bat even though he failed to keep it up towards the end. Bowling was pretty average with a one off performance in couple of games by Mendis, Randiv and Sanath.

All in all, Sri Lanka didn’t play as well so they didn’t really deserve the cup this time; and it was good English went through to the finals and showed Australians how to play 20/20, a game they started in their own backyard.
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