Captain hails Dilshan
Sangakkara delighted after opener's 96 not out helps defeat Windies
Last Updated: 20/06/09 6:37pm
Dilshan: 'Pioneering strokemaker'
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara hailed Tillakaratne Dilshan's "fantastic knock" after he hit an unbeaten 96 to help his side progress into the ICC World Twenty20 final.
The opener took just 57 balls to reach his score, the highest of the tournament to date, as Sri Lanka beat the West Indies by 57 runs in Friday's semi-final.
His knock saw Sri Lanka reach 158 for five after being put into bat by West Indies captain Chris Gayle at The Oval, before three wickets from Angelo Mathews in the first over of the reply, at the cost of a single run, put the Windies on the road to a crushing defeat.
Afterwards Sangakkara was full of praise for Dilshan, telling Sky Sports: "I've run out of superlatives to describe him.
"He's been a pioneering strokemaker in the T20 World Cup and I think the best thing about him for us as a side is over the past year and a half he's understood his role, he's become very responsible and very mature and finally come to understand just how good he is.
"(It was a) fantastic knock, greatly supported by all the other guys around him: Sanath (Jayasuriya) again, a great start; Angelo Mathews, Chamara Silva in the middle and it's a great team effort."
Sangakkara also admitted conditions played into his side's hands.
"The ball was not really coming on, probably not a typical Oval wicket," he said.
"We expected it to be a lot better and come on really well but this was a perfect pitch for us - batting first, putting up a good total and really turning the screws on the West Indies.
"We've got a great bowling attack and all of them are thinking cricketers so hopefully we can go one more step in this tournament."
West Indies captain Gayle, who notched 63 not out in his side's disappointing total of 101, was upbeat in defeat, congratulating his players for reaching the penultimate round rather than dwell on their performance in it.
"I was really happy with the guys for the performance to reach the semi-final," he said.
"It was just one of those things (tonight) - hopefully we can use it for a learning experience and next time around we can actually be strong.
"We didn't start well and with the batting as well, we just couldn't get the runs on the board. It didn't happen but like I said, it's just one of those things."