India’s stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma has thanked the Sri Lankan crowd after his team’s thrilling four-wicket victory in the final of the Twenty20 tri-series against Bangladesh at R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo on Sunday (Sunday 18). The Men in Blue pulled off a memorable victory in the final courtesy a last-ball six from Dinesh Karthik off Soumya Sarkar.
Even though the hosts Sri Lanka didn’t qualify for the final, the crowd came in huge numbers to watch the game. In fact, after the heated exchanges between the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi players in the knockout clash on Friday (March 16), the majority of support was titled towards India in the all-important final.
Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Rohit said: "Brilliant for the crowd who came out in numbers, on behalf of my team, would want to thank the Sri Lankan crowd for coming out and supporting the way they did.”
Sharma also lauded the performances of Indian youngsters, who took the responsibility in the absence of quite a few senior players.
“Great tournament for us. Young bunch of lads - lot of learning, we always knew they had lot of talent; it was just about coming here and executing. This tournament win will give them lot of confidence going forward whenever they play for India and wherever they play. Everybody who came and got opportunities stepped in, they showed lot of character and these are high-pressure games and it isn't easy and we understand that,” he added.
Chasing Bangladesh’s target of 167 runs, India didn’t experience the best of starts as Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina perished for 10 and 0 respectively. However, Rohit was determined to prove his worth in the big game and he did with a glorious 42-ball 56. Bangladeshi bowlers though managed to pull things back by dismissing Rohit in the 14th over.
India were requiring 34 runs in the last 2 overs and Karthik managed to turn things around by scoring 22 runs in the penultimate over off Rubel Hossain. Needing 12 runs in the final over, firstly Vijay Shankar hit a crucial boundary in the fourth delivery before Karthik launching Soumya Sarkar over extra cover to seal the deal. Dinesh Karthik, who didn’t get out throughout the Twenty-20 series, finished the final with a breathtaking 8-ball 29.
“The way we finished off was perfect and very happy to see Dinesh doing what he did. He didn't get much of game time, the way he came out and showed character was very very crucial for us. That was the reason I held Dinesh back, I have seen him play over the years and his experience matters a lot. When it doesn't come off, the captain never looks good. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We always had faith when we went into the dressing room after the first innings. The target I wouldn't say was a very high score or a very low score, it was a par score and with the kind of batting we have, we always had confidence to go and chase the target," Rohit asserted.
Ecstatic with his contribution in the crunch situation, the ‘Man of the Match’ recipient Dinesh Karthik said: "Really happy to come out of this performance, really happy for the team - young bunch of boys. We have played some good cricket throughout this tournament and had we not won this final, wouldn't have done justice to the way we have played this tournament. I realised that it wasn't that easy to bat, the way Mustafizur bowled that over, all I needed to do was to go for boundaries as soon as I went in.”
“Touchwood some of the balls landed in a good place for me to hit a shot. I have been practising this - where I hold a good base and swing through the line well and it came off well today. I have been saying this over and over again; the Indian team right now is a tough place to get an opportunity but once you get it - you got to make best use of the opportunity. Credit to the backroom staff - they have always given me the confidence and I'm happy where I'm," he further said.
On the other hand, Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan was stunned to see the way Karthik came and smashed their strike bowler for 22 runs in the 19th over.
"You can't ask more in a final like this. There was everything in it, I thought we played superbly. Anybody could've won the game but credit to India, they held their nerves, especially Dinesh Karthik for the way he played. We wanted our best bowlers to bowl those two overs [talking about the 18th and 19th overs], even if Rubel would have gone for 15 runs, we would've had 20 to play with but that didn't happen. He didn't miss his length by much but credit to Dinesh Karthik, coming into the wicket and hitting first ball for six is not an easy thing to do,” Shakib said.
“We knew it would be tough to defend, in the dressing room we had a very good feeling. Everyone tried their best, I can't expect more than that. In the end we are on the losing side, so it hurts but we can learn so much from this. It was pre-planned who we want to bowl. It is such a close game, you can say so many things. Hopefully we can work out from here and someday we can be on the winning side," the Bangladesh captain concluded.