Captain delighted with effort

Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene provided the anchor role © Getty Images

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene savoured the seven-wicket win over New Zealand that has established his team as real contenders for the ICC Champions Trophy.

Jayawardene said: “It was a good feeling to come back well and win. Our guys showed a lot of character.

“We fought hard and the bowlers did an excellent job.”

That sudden-death scenario inspired Sri Lanka to a vastly-improved display and after dismissing New Zealand for a lowly 165, they cruised to 166 for three in only 35.4 overs.

“When we batted, Sanath Jayasuriya gave us a brilliant start and when I went in, Upul Tharanga was in a similar mould and all I did was to stay there,” said Jayawardene.

“We are in a group where we feel the run rate would be vital in the end. Therefore, we thought a quick opening would be vital.

“As for the wicket, I am not sure whether it was the glue or the pitch that caused it to improve. Our batsmen didn't have too much of a problem when chasing today.”

Man-of-the-match Muttiah Muralitharan said: “It was a real experience playing on different pitches.

“It was good to bowl on a dry pitch with a dry ball as the dew makes it very difficult for both fast bowlers and spinners.

“It has been a great challenge to bowl against great batsmen in the tournament.”

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