KUMAR Sangakkara hit a memorable half-century to help Sri Lanka to a sixwicket victory over India in the World Twenty20 final in Dhaka yesterday.
The veteran left-hander knocked a 35-ball 52 not out in his last Twenty20 match to guide the Sri Lankan chase of a modest 131-run target in 17.5 overs at a packed Shere Bangla Stadium.
Thisara Perera hit Ravichandran Ashwin for a winning boundary to seal the win, finishing with 21 not out.
But it was Sangakkara who anchored the chase with six fours and a six in his unbeaten knock.
The victory gave Sri Lanka their first world title in 18 years since winning the (50-overs) World Cup crown in 1996 and gave the World Twenty20 a fifth champion in as many editions.
India won the inaugural edition in 2007 followed by Pakistan (2009), England (2010) and West Indies (2012).
It also broke Sri Lanka’s jinx of losing the final of major world-level events as they had lost two (50-overs) World Cup finals (2007 and 2011) besides being runners-up in as many World T20 events in 2009 and 2012.
The victory also gave a memorable swansong to veteran Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara who announced they would quit Twenty20 cricket after this tournament.
In contrast India were denied a chance to become the very first team to hold three major cricketing titles at one time, after clinching the 2011 World Cup and the Champions Trophy last year.
Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals as Indian spinners applied pressure, but Sangakkara held one end intact. Openers Kusal Perera went for five and Tillakaratne Dilshan for 18 before Sangakkara added 34 for the third wicket with Jayawardene (24) and another 54 for the unfinished fifth wicket with Thisara.
India were reduced to 130-4 by tight Sri Lankan bowling despite a brilliant half-century by Virat Kohli. He scored a 58-ball 77 for his eighth Twenty20 half-century – his fourth in this tournament – after India were sent into bat in a match reduced by 40 minutes due to rain.
With the win Sri Lanka also capped a long 2½-month tour of Bangladesh during which they won all matches in a bilateral series against the home team plus the five-nation Asia Cup.