Mumbai: Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara chose to exercise caution despite his team's thumping 112-run victory over New Zealand in their concluding Group A World Cup match on Friday by saying tougher and more important battles lay in store from the knokc-out stages.
"It's always nice to win but you have to be realistic in matters like these. It's good for our confidence but we have to know the real test lies from the quarter-finals," said the victorious team's wicketkeeper-batsman who scored a match-winning, maiden Cup century and went past 9,000 runs in ODIs.
"It's nice to score runs in these games but the big test comes in the quarterfinals, in do-or-die situations. Hopefully, I can repeat such performance in those games," said the 33-year-old Sangakkara who made a superb 111 in 128 balls with 11 boundaries and two sixes.
He also felt happy to have scored a century in a winning cause.
"If you end up on the winning side after scoring a hundred, you feel special," he said.
Sangakkara also praised the efforts of his bowlers, in particular Muttiah Muralitharan who came on to bowl despite suffering a bruise in his knee when he fell down while taking a run.
"He has bowled beautifully even on one leg. He's done that before in Australia with an injury and nearly won us a game. He did that here," said the Lankan captain about his star spinner's haul of four for 25.
Asked about the key roles played by the three seniors in the team - himself, his predecessor Mahela Jayawardene (66) and Muralitharan, Sangakkara said, "That's what our role is all about. We have to show our responsibility and do justice to the kind of seniority we have," he remarked.
Sangakkara put on 145 for the third wicket with Jayawardene after the team was tottering at 19 for 2 within the first five overs.
About the controversial 'catch' taken by New Zealand's Nathan McCullum off his own bowling that was disallowed by the third umpire when Jayawardene was 26, Sangakkara said his view was blocked and his partner wasn't sure whether it was taken cleanly or not.
"Mahela said he was not sure about Nathan's catch. We saw even in New Zealand innings when Mahela caught McCullum, it went upstairs. It can go either way," he said.
He feels New Zealand were a tough side to beat and remarked that though they were bowled out within 35 overs, a few good partnerships could have turned the match the other way.
"New Zealand are always a competitive side, very well balanced. They always do well in World Cups. We never take them lightly. But the kind of variations we have in our attack, we can trouble any attack."
"When the match finishes in 35 overs, it seems easy, but New Zealand had an okay start and Taylor had got them on course on the run-rate. A couple of partnerships would have turned it around but we did well in the tough period. Our bowlers bowled very well," he said.
"The wicket was fantastic, not a one-sided wicket as the ball was doing something in the first half and under lights.
The ground was small and the outfield quick. The only negative thing was the dew in the night but our bowlers adjusted to it beautifully," he concluded.