It was one of the biggest matches of his decorated international career but the result did not go his team’s way. Kumar Sangakkara’s Sri Lankan team slipped in the final hurdle of the 2011 World Cup as they lost a see-saw battle to India at the Wankhede Stadium.
MS Dhoni finished it in style for India as he hit Nuwan Kulasekara into the long-on stands to bring up the winning runs. Dhoni’s iconic six ended India’s 28-year-long wait for the World Cup final. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s wait prolonged.
There were contrasting emotions on the field. There were tears of joy for the victorious Indian players. The television cameras spotted Kumar Sangakkara sporting a gentle smile as he watched Yuvraj Singh hug MS Dhoni after the winning runs were hit.
Kumar Sangakkara was gracious in defeat. The photo of him sporting a smile after the defeat went viral.
Recalling the iconic smile that he sported after the World Cup 2011 final, Kumar Sangakkara, speaking to R Ashwin in the latest episode of the Instagram series Reminisce with Ash, said the smile helped him hide ‘huge amount of sadness and disappointment’.
“I think, in my life, living in Sri Lanka, there are lots of things that bring you down. There are lots of things that you worry about. 30 years we have had wars, we have had natural disasters in 2005. We have so many different issues but one of the greatest things about Sri Lankans is resilience. It is just inborn in us. When we play, we want to win, we are extremely competitive,” Kumar Sangakkara said.
“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.
“So sometimes, the best way to take victory or defeat is to understand that that’s the way life is. Not every single thing goes your way. But the important thing is to be able to take that the same way.
“No extreme highs or no extreme lows with emotions. That’s the way we kind of played our game. Not just me, but a lot of Sri Lankan cricketers.
“That was a case of thinking ‘well another one is gone. What can you do? You got to get ready for another final in 4 year’s time’.”
Mahela Jayawarden’s fluent hundred went in vain as India gunned down a target of 275 with MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir getting nineties.
‘Mahi said let’s have another toss of the coin’
Sangakkara also shed light on what happened at the controversial toss where the coin was flipped twice.
Sangakkara said the noise at Wankhede Stadium made it impossible for MS Dhoni to hear what he called. The former Sri Lanka captain said Dhoni asked for the coin to be flipped again.
Eventually, Sri Lanka won the toss and Sangakkara opted to bat. But the batting great isn’t sure whether he was ‘lucky’ on the day of the big final.
“It was a case of I think it was the crowd. It was the crowd. It never happens in Sri Lanka. It only happens in India to me. Once at Eden Gardens, I couldn’t hear myself talk to the first slip. Then of course at the Wankhede.
“I remember calling on the toss. And then, Mahi wasn’t sure what I had called. He said ‘Did you call tails?’. I said ‘No, I called tails’.
“And then the match referee actually said I won the toss. Mahi actually said ‘no, no, no, he didn’t’ There was a little bit of confusion. Mahi said let’s have another toss of the coin. And that’s when the second one went about.
“I am not sure whether it was luck that I won. Probably, if I had lost the toss, maybe India might have batted. We would have chased. Maybe Maybe. Because of the dew and we played New Zealand at the Wankhede and our spinners really went through. We defended a total. We weren’t really sure.
“And the fact that with Angelo’s injury, we played a 6-5 combination. All these factors working in. 100 percent, if Angelo had been fit, I know we would have chased. I don’t know whether the result would have changed but absolutely (would have chosen to chase).
“Because that balance of Mathews at 7 If you look at whatever we did, Mathews’ overs and his ability to bat with the tail and read situations was an incredible bonus to us.
“In that World Cup final, that’s the biggest thing I look back at You can talk about the drop catches and all that but the fact that we were forced to make that change was the real turning point in our strategy,” Sangakkara said.