Colombo: Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara was a touch emotional as he spoke about giving legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan a memorable send-off in what was his last international match at home.

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However, the skipper who also won the man-of-the-match award for his gritty half-century and fantastic glovework said that celebrations can wait till they win the final.

"There was a bit of pressure in the end but it was Murali's last game (in Sri Lanka) and we wanted to give him a great send-off. But we have just qualified for the final and we still have to win the final," the Lankan captain said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Asked about his choice of opponent among India and Pakistan, Sangakkara said, "We don't care who our opponents would be. We would like to to do our best."

About Murali, the Sangakkara termed him as an "icon of Lankan cricket. A great team-man, a fantastic human being, champion on and off the field."

The skipper waxed eloquent about his bowlers who have time and again put the Lankans in a commanding position over the past six weeks.

"We have a great variety in our bowling department and that's why we are hard for any opponent to beat us. Today they did very well to keep the score under 240 when it looked like New Zealand would score 240."

There was special mention about Tillakaratne Dilshan whose all-round performance (73 & 1/22) was one of the cornerstones of Lankan win.

"Dilshan has that magic touch. He is a smart cricketer who can take wickets and also curtail runs."

About the middle-order giving anxious moments to the dressing room, the skipper took the blame upon himself. "I believe that if you get an opportunity to finish the game then ideally you should do that."
His counterpart Daniel Vettori admitted that they were few runs short.

"We should have done better after the top-order set it up for us. After Styris 50, we failed to capitalise on the start. But full credit to the bowlers who brought us back in the match. It is their fighting characteristics that kept us in the game," Vettori who played his last match as New Zealand captain.

Asked about his tenure of captaincy, the bespectacled spinner said, "Captaincy comes and goes. The main thing is about enjoying and I have some pretty good memories."

When questioned on Black caps' semi-final jinx, Vettori said, "I don't know whether it's ability or mental aspect as I haven't reflected on that. But this is a group guys who have done their best."

 


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