COLOMBO // The Sri Lankan media was today distraught after the host nation lost the World Twenty20 final against the West Indies, with criticism focused on the team's record of crumbling under pressure in major finals.
Millions of fans had hoped Mahela Jayawardene's side would hold their nerve in the Colombo clash, but the result was a fourth defeat for the country in major tournament finals since 2007.
"Silence of the Lion," said the privately-run Ceylon Today. "West Indies carry out their threat and dance on a Sri Lankan graveyard."
"Samuels pummels chokers," said the Daily Mirror in a reference to Marlon Samuels who scored 78 runs off 56 balls.
"Sri Lanka strengthened their tag as the big-game chokers, losing to the same team they crushed by nine wickets with 28 balls to spare in the Super Eights round," the paper added.
The privately-run Island newspaper pointed the finger of blame for the defeat largely at Lasith Malinga, who gave away 54 runs in four overs for no wickets.
"The best bowler in the shortest form of the game miserably failed to live up to expectations in the biggest cricket spectacle hosted in [Sri Lanka's] history," it said.
Sri Lanka had started off well and it was "heartbreaking" for the fans inside the stadium, the paper said.
Twitter and Facebook chatter pointed to Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa's presence at the R Premadasa Stadium as a possible jinx on the home side.
Rajapaksa had told journalists he was in two minds whether to attend the final because his presence at two previous World Cup finals had ended in defeat. "Again the same story," said Sri Lankan fan Aneez on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Jayawardene was named captain of the ICC team of the World Twenty20 tournament.
The 35 year old, who ended up as the tournament's second-highest run-scorer, had announced his decision to relinquish the leadership of the Sri Lanka Twenty20 team after their defeat on Sunday.
A five-member panel selected three Sri Lanka players and two each from the new champions and Australia in the 11-man team, the governing body said.
South Africa were the only major cricketing nation without a representative in the team.
Marlon Samuels will have left Sri Lanka today emerging from the shadows of a controversial career to revive West Indian cricket with a splendid all-round display. Samuels starred with bat and ball in the World Twenty20 final in Colombo on Sunday.
The 31 year old has endured a turbulent 12-year career since his debut in 2000, having seen his bowling action questioned before being suspended for two years in 2008 for alleged links with bookmakers.
The Jamaican admitted his was a chequered life.
“The career has been up and down,” he said. “There have been a lot of tough times. I dealt with them in simple ways and tried to let them pass. But as my mentor always said to me, everything that happened to me in life is because I am important. I’m not someone that will ever give up. I never say die."
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