The Sri Lankans know how to stay gracious in their defeat and senior wicket-keeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara exemplified that in their 2011 World Cup final loss to India. Sangakkara believed throughout the quadrennial that India are the side to beat. Not just because they had the home side advantage but also due to their formidable line-up which could chase down any sort of target.
On the night of final at the Wankhede stadium, Sri Lanka opted to bat. Senior batsman Mahela Jayawardene remained unbeaten on 103 to play the role of a sheet anchor as Sri Lanka posted the score of 274/6 on board in the stipulated 50 overs.
In response, India lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early but Gautam Gambhir (97) stood on the crease maintained the momentum for the side. Virat Kohli played an important cameo before MS Dhoni (91*) stepped on the crease and took the matters in his own hands well supported by Yuvraj Singh (21*) from the other end.
Kumar Sangakkara: The smile hides a huge amount of sadness
Sri Lanka won their last World Cup in 1996. Since then the island nation have come close to getting their hands on ICC trophies but could not get enough. In the 2011 World Cup, when MS Dhoni hit Nuwan Kulasekara for a maximum to seal the deal for India, a number of Sri Lanka hearts broke watching their team come so close but still did not got enough.
Kumar Sangakkara said Sri Lankans inherently are born resilient and know how to handle defeat. For Sangakkara, his iconic smile was a way to hide all the disappointment, sadness thinking of the million people back home waiting to see their side triumph.
“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 told R Ashwin in the latest episode of the Instagram series Reminisce with Ash.
“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’,” he added.
After the 2011 World Cup loss, Sangakkara had said ‘this Indian team’ can chase down anything around 350.