Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Sri Lanka inherit South Africa's "chokers" tag
By Sudipto Ganguly
(Reuters) - South Africa's inability to win a major tournament despite having teams packed with talent has long earned them the tag of international cricket's major "chokers".
But after Sri Lanka's fourth successive loss in a World Cup final on Sunday, the African nation may believe that their Asian counterparts have now inherited the dubious title.
The island nation, who won the 1996 50-over World Cup, lost the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals in the same format and the Twenty20 final to Pakistan in 2009.
Mahela Jayawardene and his men went into Sunday's match knowing full well it was their best chance of overcoming the disappointments, playing in familiar conditions on home soil and with the support of a packed stadium.
They started brightly, cheaply dismissing the dangerous Chris Gayle, who had been touted as the man standing between Sri Lanka and the Cup, and conceding just one boundary in the first 11 overs of the West Indies innings.
But as the sixes began to fly off Marlon Samuels's thick blade in the next few overs, Sri Lanka lost the plot.
Jayawardene, involved in all four final defeats, watched helplessly as the momentum shifted in his opponents' favour and Sri Lanka never recovered.
"It was one of those days when the momentum shifted and it was pretty tough to get back in it again," the captain lamented.
Chasing a modest target of 138, the batsmen lacked self-belief and were shot out for 101 in under 19 overs, with just three of them reaching double figures as they crumbled under pressure.
The Sri Lankan crowd, who had come to celebrate a famous win, instead had to watch the West Indies players go wild with the "Gangnam Style" dance and Gayle doing a perfect imitation of the horse-riding dance made famous by South Korean singer Psy.
At the start of the tournament, the Sri Lankan captain had said he would gladly take a loss in the final rather than bow out in the initial stages.
But he was not so sure after going through the pain of defeat.
Jayawardene later announced his decision to give up the captaincy in the shortest format of the game.
"It hurts a lot, because you want to do something special, not just personally, but for the public as well," the stylish right-handed batsman told reporters.
"We've been playing really good cricket but we haven't been able to cross that hurdle. So it hurts as a player, as a cricketer, as an individual.
"But we just need to move on, try, and see how well we can get over this and get back on and keep fighting again."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)