It means a lot for us to play in WC final, says Sangakkara
Colombo: Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara was forthright in stating that it means a lot for him and his team to play in the final of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Sri Lanka qualified for the grand final in Mumbai on April 2 after they beat New Zealand by five wickets in a tense semi-final clash at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday.
Set a target of 218, the hosts were cruising at 160 for one, but the loss of few quick wickets brought New Zealand back into the game and it needed an unbeaten 35-run sixth wicket partnership between Angelo Mathews and Thilan Samaraweera to steer the co-hosts home.
"It means a lot to us. This is what we planned for over two years. We missed a great opportunity in 2007 when we reached the finals and again we`ve got a great opportunity in a few days time," Sangakkara told reporters at the post-match press conference.
"Dilshan and I should have finished it off. Dilshan batted very well. My job was to hang around with Dilshan and build a partnership. When we were two down with 60 runs to go, we should have got there easier, but in hindsight it was good for our middle order to win it for us," Sangakkara, who was named Man-of-the-Match for his 54, said.
Sri Lanka will now take on the winners of Wednesday`s high-profile semi-final between India and Pakistan in Mohali. "We will be preparing for the finals. We don`t have to get carried away. We are in the finals and that`s great and we need to keep our heads down and keep in mind that there`s a lot of work left to be done in the next few days. Today was the biggest match of our lives," the Sri Lankan skipper said.
Tuesday`s game was also Sri Lanka`s last at home in the ongoing World Cup. "It was emotional. It was the last game we play at home in front of our crowds. The next match is not going to be here. We enjoyed the occasion and appreciate the support of the spectators," Sangakkara said.
About retiring spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan`s last match on home soil, he said, "We wanted to give Murali a good send-off. Murali is the icon of Sri Lanka, on the field and off the field. He`s a fantastic human being and a great team man." It was also the last game as captain for New Zealand`s Daniel Vettori and he said some mistakes in batting cost his side dearly.
"We set up a great start, but we lost too many wickets at the end. We scrapped hard today and the top order really set it up. We missed out by not capitalising on that. I think that`s where we lost the game," Vettori said. "We have been an outstanding fielding side all throughout the tournament. We fought hard but it wasn`t enough today. Sri Lanka are going to be a tough side in the final, particularly with their bowling unit. I`ve enjoyed the tournament and the captaincy," he added.