London:Rival captains Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara paid rich tributes to Sri Lanka's prolific batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan, saying the right-hander's sublime knock made all the difference in Friday's second semi-final of the World Twenty20.
Dilshan's unbeaten 96 off 57 balls to help Sri Lanka survive a mid-innings collapse and post 158 for five, a score that proved beyond West Indies.
"I'm running out of superlatives," Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara gushed.
"He is a pioneer stroke-maker in this Twenty20 World Cup. The best thing for us has been that over the last one and half years, he has come to understand his role in the side and has become more responsible and mature. Finally, he has come to understand how good he is," Sangakkara said.
His West Indian counterpart Gayle too had no qualms in admitting that Dilshan's knock took the game away.
"We did not bowl badly but Dilshan took the game away with that magnificent innings. He was the only Sri Lankan among the runs. In this format, one man can change the match and he did it today," Gayle said.
Dilshan, on his part, said the idea was to stay till the end. "Once I got the start, I wanted to keep going until the end. I'm in good form over the last six months, I want to keep it going," said the batsman who was the obvious choice for the Man of the Match award.
Sangakkara meanwhile heaped praise on Angelo Mathews also after the medium pacer took three wickets in his sensational first over.
"The ball was not coming on to the bat and it did not look a typical Oval wicket. But it proved the perfect pitch for us as we put up a good total and turned screw on.
"Angelo's three strikes in the first over made it difficult for them. This was his first major tour with the team and what a performance!. You just cannot ask for more," Sangakkara said.
"To get three in the first over is a great start," he added.
Sangakkara said all he wanted was to deny West India a flying start and keep them on a leash in the Powerplay.
"I knew if we get first 6 overs pretty well, we have (Ajantha) Mendis and (Muttiah) Muralitharan to bank on," he said.
Sangakkara also took the opportunity to remind his teammates that their job in the tournament is not over yet.
"Hopefully we can do one more step in the tournament. For the final against Pakistan, we can take a lot of self-belief and confidence from this game.
"The idea would be to concentrate on the role we have and the basics. This philosophy has taken us this far and we need to be responsible on Sunday too and execute our plans," he added.