Pakistan rose to the occasion in style as they outplayed Sri Lanka to win the ICC World Twenty20 final by eight wickets at Lord's on Sunday.
Runners-up to India in the last edition, Pakistan, who were beaten by the Lankans by 19 runs in the Super Eights, made sure there was no disappointment this time as they comfortably chased down 139 for two and won with eight deliveries to spare. In the process, they claimed their first World Cup trophy in 17 years, their last being the 50-over crown in 1992.
Their convincing display with the bat was augmented by an unbeaten half-century from man of the match Shahid Afridi, who scored 54 from 40 deliveries, inclusive of two boundaries and two sixes. He was involved in an unbroken stand of 76 runs off 59 deliveries for the third wicket with Shoaib Malik, who made 24 from 22 deliveries.
Earlier, electing to bat, Sri Lanka were reduced to 70 for six before Sangakkara propped them with an unbeaten 64 from 52 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries. He was involved in an unbroken stand of 68 for the seventh wicket off 44 deliveries with Angelo Mathews, who stroked a vital 35 off 24 deliveries, inclusive of three fours and a six.
Abdul Razzaq was brilliant upfront with the new ball as he claimed three for 20 in three overs to trigger the collapse, while Shahid Afridi took one for 20 in four overs.
Tillakaratne Dilshan failed in the final, but his tournament returns of 317 from seven matches, at 52.83, inclusive of three half-centuries, earned him title of player of the tournament.
Sri Lanka won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat. Both teams retained the line-ups of their semi-final victories.
Pakistan came in with a set plan against Dilshan, who thus far had been unstoppable with the bat. 17-year-old Mohammad Aamer started with a quick bouncer against the opener and followed it up with three more short deliveries on the body which the Sri Lankan tried to get away.
Finally, Aamer's persistence paid off, as Dilshan was out to the fifth short delivery, trying to pull it fine and caught by Shahzaib Hussain at short fine leg for a duck. (0-1, 0.5)
Abdul Razzaq also struck in his first over, claiming the wicket of Jehan Mubarak, who was promoted in a bid to take on the bowlers in the Powerplay overs.
Mubarak advanced down the wicket and tried to lift one over the leg side, but got a leading edge and was caught at cover for 0. (2-2, 1.3)
Sangakkara got Sri Lanka going with a couple of boundaries in the third over by Aamer. Jayasuriya then lofted Razzaq for a six over mid-wicket and hit the next ball for a boundary through fine leg. But the bowler had the last laugh when he Jayasuriya for 17 from 10 deliveries.
The left-hander tried to pull Razzaq but could only drag it on to his stumps, leaving Sri Lanka reeling at 26 for three in the fourth over.
Sri Lanka's position further worsened when Mahela Jayawardene [Images] (1) guided one straight to Misbah-ul Haq and became Razzaq's third victim of the innings. (32-4, 5.3)
Pakistan's spinners then set about drying up the runs, as just 20 came in four overs, as Sri Lanka put up 54 for four at the halfway stage.
The tournament's top wicket-taker Umar Gul, introduced in the 12th over, needed just three deliveries to claim a wicket. Chamara Silva, who had scored 14 from 19 deliveries, mistimed a pull shot, hitting it straight to Saeed Ajmal [Images] at midwicket. (67-5, 11.3)
Shahid Afridi finished his spell with a wicket, bowling Isuru Udana for 1 with his wrong one, a delivery that spins into the batsman.
Afridi had once again made a vital contribution with the ball, claiming one for 20 in four overs, as Sri Lanka slipped to 70 for six after 13 overs.
Meanwhile, Sangakkara continued to wage a lone battle. He clipped Gul off his pads over mid-wicket to bring up his half-century off 44 balls, inclusive of five boundaries. The left-hander pulled the final delivery of that over for another boundary to fetch 15 runs from the over as Sri Lanka reached 103 for six after 17 overs.
Ajmal was also hit for a boundary each by Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews in the 18th over as Sri Lanka started closing in on a competitive total. The two batsmen brought up their 50-run partnership for the seventh wicket in just 35 deliveries to give Sri Lanka the much-needed boost in the final few overs.
Matthews went after youngster Aamer in the final over, hitting him for a boundary and six through midwicket. The last over fetched 17 runs for Sri Lanka as they put up a competitive 138 for 6 in their 20 overs.
Sangakkara was unbeaten on a fine 64 from 52 deliveries, while Mathews finished not out on 35 from 24 deliveries. The two batsmen were involved in an unbroken stand of 68 runs for the seventh wicket.
Sri Lanka, with the bowling attack at their disposal, must be really fancying their chances now. Pakistan will be disappointed not to have restricted Sri Lanka to a lower total. Nevertheless, they still have a good chance with the bat.
Pakistan got off to a confident start when Kamran Akmal cracked Mathews through the covers for a boundary in the first over of the innings. A few quiet overs followed before Shahzaib Hasan and Akmal hit a boundary each off Udana to take Pakistan to 26 after just four overs.
Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis were introduced early, as Sri Lanka used five different bowlers for the first six overs. Akmal did not let Mendis settle down, sweeping him for a six over square leg, as Pakistan reached a comfortable 39 for no loss after six overs.
Akmal hit his second six in the next over, the seventh, pulling Mathews over mid-wicket for a six as Sri Lanka's desperation increased.
It was part-timer Jayasuriya who effected the breakthrough with his very first delivery. Akmal danced down the wicket but missed the ball completely and was stumped for 37 from 28 deliveries, inclusive of two sixes and two boundaries. (48-1, 7.1)
Hasan took over the initiative after Akmal's dismissal, hitting two boundaries off Mendis in the ninth over. But he lost his wicket rather tamely in the next over for 19 from 23 deliveries, when he top-edged a simple catch to the fine leg fielder, attempting a slog sweep off Muralitharan. (63-2, 9.1)
Surprisingly, Afridi played quite cautiously for the start of his innings, reaching 17 off 19 deliveries. But, with a few quiet overs, the Pakistan right-hander decided it was time to break the shackles and launched Muralitharan for a six and boundary off consecutive deliveries in the 14th over.
Pakistan enjoyed a slight edge as the final quarter of the game approached, having reached 103 for three after 15 overs, needing another 36 runs off the last five.
Afridi and Malik played sensibly as they relied mostly on singles and twos to keep the scoreboard going and brought up their 50-run partnership in 47 deliveries, which had just a boundary and six in it.
With 26 needed from the last three overs, Sri Lanka brought in Udana and Afridi sensed this was the over to go in for the kill. He launched a full delivery over the mid-wicket fence for a six in perhaps what proved to be the decisive blow.
Afridi then played the next ball fine for a boundary to bring up his half-century in just 37 deliveries and put Pakistan on verge of the title.
Shoaib Malik got his first boundary off the 21st delivery he faced when he glided one fine through fine leg. Fittingly, Afridi got the winning runs when a leg bye off Malinga got Pakistan a deserving victory.