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Page last updated at 22:32 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 23:32 UK

Sangakkara hails brave Sri Lanka

Tillakaratne Dilshan
Dilshan was one blow away from hitting the tournament's first ton

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara hailed his side's mental strength after they sealed their place in Sunday's ICC World Twenty20 final.

They face Pakistan in the final, four months after being caught in the middle of the terrorist atrocity in Lahore.

They booked their spot at Lord's courtesy of a 57-run semi-final victory over the West Indies on Friday.

"It's fitting reward for our courage and the way we have played in this tournament," said Sangakkara.

Once again, Sri Lanka dominated their opponents with an impressive technical display with bat and ball, posting a total of 158-5 before bowling the West Indies out for 101.

Sangakkara feels such performances, and the side's appreciation of their achievements, are spurred on by the side's experience of the incident in Lahore when their bus came under attack and several players received injuries.

606: DEBATE

"I think what Lahore really brought home to us was that we are the same as everyone else. It (terrorism) can happen to anyone and it happened to us," he said.

"Sometimes it is nice to be reminded of your mortality when things like the press can build you up to be a bit more than that in this sporting culture.

"I think it's great the way the guys have prepared mentally and the way they've gone out, showed no fear and just focused on cricket."

Sangakkara singled out batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan as a "pioneering strokemaker" after the openers decisive innings of 96 not out.

"You run out of superlatives to describe him," said Sangakkara.

"He has understood his role in the past year and a half, he's become very mature and is beginning to understand just how good a batsman he is."

Dilshan, who has played in 17 Twenty20 internationals and 160 one-day matches for his country, was already the tournament's top scorer before the semi-final at The Oval.

I was very disappointed with the batting, which I thought was our strength, but Sri Lanka's bowling was excellent

Chris Gayle

He then produced the best individual score, in an innings that again featured a couple of distinctive shots scooped over his own head.

However, the 32-year-old fell just four runs short of becoming only the second player after Chris Gayle to record a Twenty20 international century.

He said: "I always felt 140 was a good total because we have so many champion bowlers.

"In the last six months I have had very good form in the Indian Premier League and international cricket, and I was just trying to continue that into this tournament.

Sangakkara said conditions had helped his team more than West Indies.

"The ball was not really coming on, it was not a typical Oval wicket. We expected the ball to come on more but it was a really good wicket for us."

Tillakaratne Dilshan

Highlights - Sri Lanka power past Windies

And he also praised the contribution of Angelo Mathews, who took three West Indies wickets in an incredible first over.

"He's young, it was his first major tour with the side - what a fantastic over, you can't ask for more.

"We have a lot of belief and confidence for the final from this game, but the greatest thing is to concentrate on your role and the basics."

Dejected West Indies captain Gayle played a lone hand, making 63 not out as they were bowled out for 101.

He said: "Dilshan took the game away from us, he batted magnificently well. One man can actually change a game of Twenty20.

"I was very disappointed with the batting, which I thought was our strength, but Sri Lanka's bowling was excellent.

"In the first over we lost three wickets. We have been struggling to get good starts but we will just use the tournament as a learning experience. I'm sure next time around we'll be stronger."



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see also
Sri Lanka thrash Windies in semis
19 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka v West Indies photos
19 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Afridi steers Pakistan into final
18 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka cruise into semi-finals
16 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Windies knock England out of T20
15 Jun 09 |  England
Sri Lanka see off valiant Ireland
14 Jun 09 |  Cricket
South Africa see off West Indies
13 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka too strong for Pakistan
12 Jun 09 |  Cricket
India stunned by brilliant Bravo
12 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka honours cricket driver
06 Apr 09 |  South Asia
Lahore Test scrapped after attack
03 Mar 09 |  Cricket
Gunmen shoot Sri Lanka cricketers
03 Mar 09 |  South Asia
ICC World Twenty20 2009 results
21 Jun 09 |  Cricket


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Borneo Bulletin Pakistan, Sri Lanka rise again in World T20 final - 3 hrs ago
Sports Jamaica Lankans, Pakistan seek to bury painful memories - 5 hrs ago
Eircom.net Sri Lanka, Pakistan emerge from Lahore horror - 6 hrs ago
The Saudi Gazette Pakistan and Sri Lanka rise again in World T20 final - 9 hrs ago
Citizen.co.za Sangakkara wary of Pakistan in Twenty20 final - 10 hrs ago


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