No fairytale ending for Murali
Kumar Sangakkara rued not being able to give Muttiah Muralitharan the perfect send-off in what was his final international appearance for Sri Lanka and admitted the team would "miss him terribly." Sri Lanka were beaten by six wickets in the World Cup final by India in Mumbai and Murali, on one of his rare off days, went wicketless in eight overs and conceded 39 runs.
"It's one of those rare days when he hasn't really done the job for us, but it happens maybe once in a 100 games," Sangakkara said. "We're going to miss him terribly. Unfortunately we couldn't give him a great send-off but that's the way it goes. We were outplayed and we have to accept that."
Sri Lanka had done well after winning the toss, posting 274 thanks to a superlative century from Mahela Jayawardene. They were in command when Lasith Malinga dismissed India's openers, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, early in the chase. But the Indian middle order stepped up with Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni reviving the innings with match-winning half-centuries.
Murali was dealt with easily by Gambhir and Dhoni, who hit him repeatedly to the extra-cover boundary. Murali had come into this game with a groin injury, and while it was considered a risk to play him, the game was just too big to leave him out. Sangakkara, however, said fitness didn't affect Murali's performance.
"He's our best bowler, even if half-fit," Sangakkara said. "But he was fine, he was almost at full fitness when he played today. I don't think it was an issue."
Murali had ended his Test career on a high, picking up a wicket with his final delivery to win Sri Lanka a game against India last year. And while that perfect ending eluded him this World Cup, Sangakkara summed up what he meant for Sri lanka. "Murali is the icon of Sri Lanka," he said. "As a champion on the field and off the field. As a human being and a cricketer, I don't think there is anyone to match him."