Dunedin: Adjudged Man of the Match for his match-winning century, Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene was all praise for Afghanistan saying that there is "not a big gap" between the Afghans and other top cricketing sides.
Chasing a target of 233, the islanders were in a spot of bother, tottering at 51/4. But veteran Jayawardene (100) and skipper Angelo Mathews (44) combined for 126-run partnership to get Sri Lanka closer to the target which they eventually achieved with four wickets and 10 balls to spare at the University Oval here Sunday.
"All credit to Afghanistan. Thought they batted really well in tough conditions, then followed it up beautifully with the ball. So feeling really relieved in the end to get over the line.
They have the pace, the movement, and they are a handful. Not a big gap between the top countries and these guys," Jayawardene said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The 37-year-old said it was important for him to hang around and try to finish off the game after they lost a few early wickets, adding that he was looking forward to the next few games.
"The wicket was looking a bit difficult but when I joined Mathews it was important to try and hang in there and finish off the game.
I thought Thisara (Perera) played really well to finish it off for us. It was a bit of wait after the first game but we do have two quick games coming up, so we are looking to get prepared for those," he said.
Sri Lanka had lost their World Cup opener Feb 14 against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. They will next take on Bangladesh Thursday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.