Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara spoke about the infamous toss incident at the 2011 World Cup final at Wankhede Stadium, how he managed to keep smiling after another World Cup final loss and beating India in the 2014 World T20 in an interview with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on his Instagram Live chat series ‘Reminiscence with Ash’.
The 42-year-old initially struggled to turn on the live feature on social media platform and Ashwin joked about it before the two went on to have insightful chat about Sri Lankan cricket and the World Cup finals between the two teams where both players were present.
“I have about four of those memories ... four World Cup finals [lost],” said Sangakkara about his record in finals with the Sri Lankan team.
Excerpts from the chat:
On how he managed to smile after the 2011 loss
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. For about 30 years we have had wars, we have had natural disasters in 2005, we have so many different issues that 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 we want to win. But whether we win or lose, we have this equilibrium on how to take a win or loss. That 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 four years’ time’
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On the 2014 final win
We never expected India to be kept under 170 or 160, that was what we were targeting, thinking that would be a good enough chase. We had a plan against the Indian side, usually when we played India in India we knew that our job was to chase totals down because we knew the Indian team loved chasing. The only thing, in a 50 over game we can do that, especially in 2011 if we had Angelo Mathews fit…
We were always thinking of chasing in the T20 final. But when Virat Kohli came in and he was on about 14 and he chips one on to shot mid wicket and Lasith Malinga, who was captain at the time, dropped him.
We had two similar incidents of dropped catches, one in 2011 when [Gautam] Gambhir was dropped and one in 2012 when Marlon Samuels was dropped and they all went on to score match-winning knocks. I remember going to the other side and saying ‘Another dropped catch, hopefully this is not going to be a big innings. Dilshan goes ‘it’s not the same player who dropped the catch so maybe this time it’s going to change.
It was the last four overs ... 18 to 24 balls some ridiculously low amount of runs bowling to Virat [Kohli] and Mahi [MS Dhoni]. Some exceptional death bowling which I have never seen before or since in a game to tie one down is what brought us in and after that it was all about batting sensibly. I remember getting some thick inside edges off you ... that helped as well.
On the toss in the 2011 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 asked: ‘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.
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 because that balance of Mathews at seven, 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.
Watch the full episode of Kumar Sangakkara’s chat with Ravichandran Ashwin here: