Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara Saturday praised Tillakaratne Dilshan as a "special" player and described his opening partnership with Upul Tharanga as "ruthless" that saw the team cruising into the semi-finals with a record 10-wicket win over England in the World Cup quarterfinal.
Sangakkara said Dilshan is a player who brings something to the team in every department.
Openers Dilshan (108) and Tharanga (102) chased down the target of 230 in 39.3 overs. A part-time off spinner, Dilshan also shared the new ball and picked up the wicket of in-form England captain Andrew Strauss.
"He is a player who always does something special whether it is batting, bowling or fielding and lifts the side with his performance. We gave him the new ball because we thought he can be good against Andrew Strauss, who is a left hander and does not have a great history against spin. Dilshan got his wicket and fielded well. Dilshan and Upul then batted brilliantly. The team should see how much of sheer responsibility he manages," Sangakkara said.
"Dilshan and Tharanga were magnificent. They were ruthless and despite the fact they were cramping down, they kept going. It is a special performance in a big game and a spark of inspiration for the team."
Sangakkara said though it looked easy on the field, performances such as these come after a lot of hard work.
"It may look easy on the field, but the guys fought hard especially fielding first and they kept the pressure on England. We missed some catches and we have to quickly brush up that area. It is not that we fielded badly, we just dropped catches and in future we have to see that we do not drop too many catches specially off one player," Sangakkara said, pointing to Eoin Morgan being dropped thrice.
Sangakkara said they went with three spinners because the wicket had dried up and also because England are not too good against the slower bowlers.
"We would like to be unpredictable and we have the variety in our attack to try out options. We thought of keeping the opposition down to less than 250. We had to do bit of work on the field but we did exceptionally well to keep them under 250," he said.
Sangakkara said that subcontinent teams have been doing well in the World Cups since 1992 and it was no surprise that three teams have reached the semi-finals.
"Subcontinent teams have put up some great performance. And the conditions favour us."
Asked about the England's performance, Sangakkara said "They are still a good side. It is not easy when you lose so many players to injury in a tournament and have to keep performing. They missed players like Kevin Pietersen. James Anderson was sitting on the bench. Michael Yardy had to go back. They played very well in the ODI series last time here and beat us. Today was just our day."
Asked about the fitness of Muttiah Muralitharan, who was limping a bit towards the end, Sankgakkara said: "He has bit stiff but nothing much. I'm sure he'll be fit for the next game."
The Sri Lankan capatin said the team has to carry the momentum against New Zealand. Both the sides have met once in the group stage in Mumbai where Sri Lanka won by a massive 112-run margin.
"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves, we just have to keep our heads down," said Sangakkara.