Chester-le-Street: Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne was mighty pleased with Angelo Mathews who picked up the crucial wicket of Nicolas Pooran and helped his side register a 23-run win in a nervy World Cup encounter at Riverside Ground on Monday.
Despite scoring 338, Sri Lanka were given a scare by Pooran who was going all guns blazing and almost sealed the match for his side with his amazing hundred.
With Windies needing 31 from 18 deliveries, Karunaratne was left thinking as premier fast bowler Lasith Malinga had just one over left in his spell. That's when Mathews, who hadn't bowled since 2017, went up to his captain and put up his hand to bowl. He scalped Pooran for 118 in the 48th over, thus sealing the match for his side. In his two-over spell, Mathews picked up one wicket and gave only six runs.
"Pooran was playing really well. Thing is that we had to get those two overs done. He (Mathews) put his hand up and said that he'll bowl the overs. He did a fantastic job and that's what I am expecting as a captain," said Karunaratne at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"I don't think he'll bowl too many overs in future but if needed, certainly he will chip in with a couple of overs," he added.
Karunaratne feels his players haven't been able to express themselves under pressure in the ongoing tournament, one of the reasons why they could not make it to the knockouts.
"It's a good win for us, gives us a lot of confidence. Players stood up at vital times and that's what I'm expecting as a captain. I think we were putting pressure on ourselves (before today's game) and weren't expressing properly. Today, we did that and the middle order batted well," he said.
He also lavished praise on 21-year-old Avishka Fernando who scored his first international century to propel Sri Lanka to 338/6.
"Avishka was really good in his innings. We knew that they are a good six-hitting side and wanted to keep the pressure on, and increase the required rate slowly."
Meanwhile, West Indies skipper Jason Holder rued the fact that his team was sloppy in the field and gave away a few extra runs which made the difference.
"We were probably, a bit slow off the blocks. We were sloppy on the field and gave away a few extra runs. In a format like this, these things matter. You've got to be better than that. I thought it was above-par," said Holder.
"We were always backing ourselves to get across the line. We got into a really good position but then threw it away. That run out (Fabian Allen) was crucial, as was Pooran's wicket. Maybe we could have taken it deeper," he added.
West Indies will play their final game of the tournament against Afghanistan on Thursday while Sri Lanka will face India on Saturday in their last group stage game.