It took a clinical, undefeated Sri Lankan outfit to go all the way and rightfully fill the few too many recent wounds of finishing second-best in a major tournament. Making it to six finals since 2007 (ICC World Cup 2007, Asia Cup 2008, World T20 2009, Asia Cup 2010, ICC World Cup 2011, World T20 2012), Sri Lanka have perhaps been an exceptionally consistent unit in World Cricket but that hasn't reflected in their trophy cabinet. Before Saturday's much-anticipated victory, Sri Lanka had won just one final (Asia Cup 2008) out of the six they've reached since 2007.
"We wanted to break the barrier between us and the final and I am glad we won in the end. It's a big victory for the entire team. We haven't won a major title for a long time," Angelo Mathews' words at the presentation ceremony probably echoed the thoughts of most people who've keenly followed Sri Lanka in the recent past. (Related: Match report | Match in pics | Match highlights)
The situation was familiar but there must have been a few nerves in the Sri Lankan camp. They were facing a side as unpredictable as the sport itself, blowing hot and cold at will. At the halfway stage, Lasith Malinga's heroics (five for 56) gave his team a few reasons to believe that a moment of glory was about to beckon. A run chase of 261 in an era when flat pitches allow teams to go far and beyond the 300-run mark with ease would have done a world of good to their confidence. Yet, they would have been aware of the weight of the situation, that failure would add to another good and yet unfulfilled performance in a big tournament.
A lot was riding on Lahiru Thirimanne's form as he walked out with the chance of finishing as the top run-getter of the series. His partner Kusal Perera took the opportunity to turn back the clock with shots that had his hero Sanath Jayasuriya's trademark all over. A stroke-filled, high flying start for the Lankans gave their dug out a reason to breathe easy. It was also one of those days when things weren't quite going Pakistan's way in the field. Nothing else could explain Sharjeel Khan's inability to judge the boundary line at deep mid-wicket while pouching the shot from Perera but stepping over to give away six runs.