Mumbai, March 19 (IANS) Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara said it was their variety in bowling that gave them a confidence-building 112-run win over New Zealand in their last Group A match of the World Cup here Friday.
New Zealand batsmen struggled to play the spin of Muttiah Muralitharan (4-25) and Ajantha Mendis (2-24) and were bowled out for 153 runs in 35 overs, chasing 266 at the Wankhede Stadium.
“New Zealand are always a very competitive and balanced side. We never take them lightly. But they found the variation in our bowling troublesome and we tried to maximize on that. They found it difficult to play against Mendis, Murali and (Lasith) Malinga,” Sangakkara said.
“It is always good to win for our confidence. But the real test is the quarterfinal. We have to keep working hard. The format is such that it is now do-or-die. In previous formats, teams with consistent performances would win.”
On the tiff between Mahela Jayawardene and Nathan McCullum over a catch, Sangakkara said Jayawardene, is a player, who would have walked off if he was sure that the catch was clean.
“Mahela was very honest and he said he was not sure he caught it cleanly. Mahela is someone, who walks when he nicks it. He wasn’t very sure and umpires weren’t sure so they checked with the technology and it went in favour of Mahela. That’s the way the game is played. We had Brendon McCullum stand his ground when Mahela took that catch and they went upstairs and it was proved that it was a clean catch. So it can go either way,” he said.
Sangakkara said the pitch bounced more than they had expected.
“The ball skidded a bit in the first few overs and a lot more towards the end. The wicket had a lot more bounce than we expected. The ground is small, the outfield lighting quick. The dew was a factor a little bit towards the end,” he said.
Sangakkara with his 111 against the Black Caps is now the leading run scorer in the World Cup. It was also his maiden hundred in the mega event. He hoped to carry his form into the quarters and insisted that batting according to situation is what matters most.
“It is very nice to score a hundred. It has been the most successful World Cup for me. It is important to have a hundred when you are on the winning side. You want centuries but you don’t chase them. It is important to score according to situation. In ODIs it is the fitness which is pretty important and I am very lucky not to have injuries,” he said.
Sangakkara said that Muralitharan, who bruised his knee during the match, has been a fighter and is hungry for wickets as he would retire after the tournament.
“He was injured and he bowled almost on one leg and did well. We have a few days before the quarterfinal and we hope he will be fully fit. We want to make sure he enjoys himself, and we want him to take wickets,” he said.
The captain was happy with the team’s performance.
“Dismissing a team in 35 overs looks that it’s an easy win but it was not. Ross Taylor kicked in the momentum and with couple of partnerships any thing could have happened. The fact that everyone chipped is the most satisfying,” he said.