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Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Sunday, 3 April 2011 18:54 UK

Cricket World Cup: Tillakaratne Dilshan column

Tillakaratne Dilshan (right), captain Kumar Sangakkara and team-mates look dejected after the final
Dilshan (right) says it is not fair to criticise Sri Lanka's bowlers

By Sri Lanka batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan
BBC exclusive

The team had high hopes of winning the World Cup but it is very sad that we lost to India in the final.

I have only taken part in two World Cups, but it is sad - really a very bad feeling - that Sri Lanka were runners-up on both occasions.

Full credit to India. India played better cricket, they outplayed us in all three areas - batting, bowling and fielding.

I would have been happy with my performance had I stayed in for 10 more overs and built a better partnership with captain Kumar Sangakkara.

After Upul Tharanga went early, as a result of Zaheer Khan's superb bowling, I was forced to take a step back and made sure I stayed in. If I had stuck with my natural game and played aggressive shots, there was a danger of India taking my wicket.

I think it was the most unfortunate occasion I got out during the tournament. The ball did not touch the bat - it hit my armguard, my pad and then hit the stumps.

I am sure had I stayed in a bit longer, we would have scored more than 300 which in turn might have changed the final result.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has suggested Sangakkara or India captain Mahendra Dhoni may have pretended they didn't hear the call first time as the toss was made.

I don't know what exactly happened, but according to Sangakkara, they did not hear it as the thousands of fans started cheering.

Sangakkara usually calls 'heads' and he did the same for the final, but Dhoni and the match referee Jeff Crowe did not hear it.

We made four changes to the team that played the semi-final against New Zealand. Angelo Mathews was injured, but we made all the changes in good faith in order to win the game.

It was a collective decision, the whole team discussed the changes on Friday, and the responsibility is shared by all the members of the team.

TMS producer Adam Mountford

Had we won the World Cup, many would have praised those changes but it is natural that some are now questioning them.

We had to select Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara to replace Mathews, who is a very strong batsman in the lower middle order, as losing Mathews was a big blow.

Kulasekara built a very important partnership with Mahela Jayawardene, and Suraj Randiv bowled well but unfortunately could not get a wicket.

In my opinion everything, including the changes, went well apart from the fact that we did not play to our full potential, and India simply did not give us any opportunity.

Getting their openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulakar out early gave us the advantage, but Gautam Gambhir built two strong partnerships with Virat Kohli and Dhoni - and these were the turning points in the game.

After about 30 overs, the pitch did not offer any support to the bowlers as the dew began to appear.

Some have been asking why we did not change the bowlers as Kulasekara was hammered by the Indian batsmen in the last overs.

Kulasekara bowled well in previous matches during the batting powerplay and overall, our bowlers have performed really well throughout the tournament.

Muttiah Muralitharan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga
Muralitharan (left) is bowing out of international cricket

Unfortunately, it did not bring results in the final, and I think it is not fair to judge players just because of one game.

Even before we began the tournament, I personally had a goal to become the player of the tournament. I think I came close to achieving that.

It is sad that I missed out but I'm sure I would have been player of the tournament had Sri Lanka won the World Cup.

But I was not focusing on individual goals, our aim was to bring the World Cup back to Sri Lanka for the first time since 1996.

It is even sadder that we could not give the best farewell to Muttiah Muralitharan, who played his last one-day international, and who deserved a much better farewell. The whole team wanted to win the World Cup for him.

I remember when I first played with Murali.

It was a dream come true when I got the call to join the tour to Zimbabwe in 1999 while I was playing with the Sri Lanka A team in South Africa, and it was Murali who approached me and offered me support as a young player.

He is a great player who did a great job for Sri Lanka as well as world cricket in the last 20 years.

I can't remember a single minute he stopped speaking and motivating our team during a game.

I myself will feel the loss of a very good friend, great motivator and the most cheerful person in the dressing-room.

Usually, it is Murali who approaches a new player whenever they come into the team. He talks to the new player, offers him advice, gives him confidence, takes him to dinner and gives every support to the new man.

He has been a great motivator and a mentor for many of us in the Sri Lankan team, and I am lucky to have played with such a world class player.

I would like to wish all the very best to Murali for his future, cricket endeavours, as well as in his family life.

I sincerely hope he will help cricket in Sri Lanka in the future in whatever capacity he can.

Sri Lanka opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan was speaking to Saroj Pathirana of the BBC Sinhala Service.

Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan bowls

Dilshan named in BBC Test Match Special producer Adam Mountford's team of the tournament (UK users only)

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see also
India power to World Cup triumph
02 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Indians dedicate win to Tendulkar
02 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Indian press revel in Cup victory
03 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Joy and desolation after cricket final
02 Apr 11 |  South Asia
Agnew on the World Cup
03 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup final in photos
02 Apr 11 |  Cricket
India v Sri Lanka as it happened
02 Apr 11 |  Cricket
World Cup: Team of the tournament
01 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka prepares for Cup final
31 Mar 11 |  Sri Lanka
India beat Pakistan to make final
30 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka edge NZ to reach final
29 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka knock out jaded England
26 Mar 11 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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