Sri Lanka Would Have Chased if Angelo Mathews Had Been Fit For 2011 World Cup Final: Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara (© AFP)

The absence of allrounder Angelo Mathews proved disastrous to Sri Lanka’s plan as the prepared for the all-important ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 final against hosts India, says batting legend Kumar Sangakkara.

Mathews, who had played a viral role in Sri Lanka’s semi-final win over New Zealand, pulled out of the summit clash due to quadriceps muscle injury.

The then Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara’s strategy took a big hit due to the injury as they rejigged their plans which eventually turned out to be the turning point.

“In that WC final, that’s the biggest thing I look back and think…You can talk about drop catches and all of that happens. But the composition of the side and the fact that we were forced to make the change was to me the turning point,” Sangakkara told Ravichandran Ashwin as while appearing on his Instagram series ‘Reminisce with Ash’.

Powered by an unbeaten century from Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka set a challenging 257 to win for India. And they picked out two early wickets too before Gautam Gambhir and India captain MS Dhoni combined to take the game away and secure the trophy.

Sangakkara said if Mathews would have played, Sri Lanka would have surely fielded first.

“But for 100 per cent, if Angelo (Mathews) had been fit, I know for sure we would have gone for chase… I’m not sure whether the result would have changed. That balance of team that Mathews would give at seven really was a bonus,” he said.

“If you take our entire campaign, whatever we did Mathews’ overs and his ability to bat with the tail and read situations was an incredible bonus to us. He was a young chap who came into the side and from day one he could read situations. It’s just instinct, how to up the rate, how to control the bowler, when to accelerate,” he added.

There was a bit of a controversy during the toss leading to the coin being flipped twice after the deafening noise at the Wankhede Stadium made it nearly impossible for the officials and captains to hear the call.

“The was crowd was huge. It never happens in Sri Lanka. Once I had this at Eden Gardens when I could not talk to the first slip and then of course at the Wankhede. I remember calling on the toss then Mahi wasn’t sure and said did you call tail and I said no I called head,” he recalled.

He continued, “The match referee actually said I won the toss, Mahi said he did not. There was a little bit of confusion there and Mahi said let’s have another toss of the coin and heads went up again. I am not sure whether it was luck that I won. I believe probably India might have batted if I had lost.”

The final was Sri Lanka’s second straight in ODI World Cup but it also ended up in a loss.

“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,” he said.