Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene hailed Adam Gilchrist after Australia won the 2007 World Cup by 53 runs.
Jayawardene could not prevent Australia piling on the runs
Gilchrist hit a brilliant 149 off just 104 balls in Barbados as Australia posted 284-4 in a match reduced to 38 overs a side by a long rain delay.
Jayawardene said: "I thought we played really good cricket up to now, but that was a very special innings from Gillie.
"The way he batted in a World Cup final was brilliant and totally took the game away from us."
Gilchrist was dropped twice, the first being a hard return catch for Dilhara Fernando when he was on 31 and then by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara after he reached his century.
And he is one of three Australians to have featured in their hat-trick of World Cup victories.
We were catching them all the time, but they were too good for us
"It was simply a brilliant innings from Gilchrist, unfortunately I was the opposition captain watching it," added Jayawardene.
"I'm obviously disappointed to lose the final. This was a lifetime opportunity of winning the World Cup but it was taken away by a great innings.
"It was solid hitting, you can't control the flow of runs when Gilchrist's in such form. He did it to us once in the final of an Australian Tri-Series."
Sri Lanka finished on 215-8 after having their innings reduced to 36 overs after further rain delays.
And Jayawardene said: "We were chasing it all the time until we got to a point where we just couldn't keep up with it.
"But all credit to Ricky and the team - they played really good cricket and some really professional stuff.
"We were catching them all the time, but they were too good for us. The way Australia started off made it very difficult for us.
Jayawardene talks with Ponting as the final ends in near darkness
"We were in a very good position at one stage, but when the next lot of clouds came over we had to take a decision - and it didn't go our way.
"I'm very proud of the guys and what we have achieved. We put up a great World Cup performance and we played exceptionally well to make the final."
The game ended in farcical scenes with the Australian players celebrating victory with three overs left to play after Sri Lanka's batsmen had accepted bad light.
But the umpires told the Sri Lankan captain that his batsmen would have to come back and finish the game in near darkness.
Both skippers agreed to resume the match and Australian captain Ricky Ponting brought on his spinners to bowl to Sri Lanka's tailenders.
"At that stage we needed 70 runs in 20 balls, I had already made my call when we accepted the bad light offered by the umpires," said Jayawardene.
"The decision to come out and face three overs of spin was a goodwill gesture.
"I did not want to put my players under grave risk having to face the Australian pace bowlers. Australia deserved the win with the way they played in the final."