Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said batting legend Kumar Sangakkara played a key role in inspiring his side to an unexpected win over defending champions India in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 clash at The Oval on Thursday. Sri Lanka trumped title favourites India by seven wickets on Thursday to sprung the highest successful run chase in Champions Trophy history. India made an imposing 321/6, the fourth highest total in Champions Trophy history, but Sri Lanka, without two of their best batsmen, trumped that with 322/3 with eight balls to spare. (SCORECARD)
Mathews said Sangakkara, who is currently playing for Surrey, spent some time with his country's youngsters before the crucial clash against India. Mathews thanked Sangakkara for his tips to Kusal Mendis, who made 89, and other young batsmen.
"Yeah, Mendis met Kumar Sangakkara to get a few batting tips, and he's the king, and we all look up to him. We all get advice from him, all the batters," Mathews said.
"He taught us a lot of good things on how to play on these tracks. Yesterday the guys met him and took a lot of advice and went out there and implemented it," he added.
Sri Lanka were thrashed by South Africa in their opening match but bounced back in style to complete their joint highest ODI run chase, which also kept alive their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka didn't do it without drama under leaden skies. Danushka Gunathilaka, who joined the team the day before as an injury replacement, and Kusal Mendis were run out for 76 and 89 respectively in mid-innings, then Kusal Perera, hobbling on a suspected right hamstring injury, retired hurt on 47 with seven overs to go.
But fit-again captain Angelo Mathews, playing his first one-day international since August, coolly saw his side home beside Asela Gunaratne. Mathews cracked an unbeaten 52 off 45 balls and Gunaratne 34 off 21 to cap the most successful run chase in the 44-year history of ODIs.
"Mind you, to walk into a game knowing that Danushka wasn't even in the 15 and Kapugedera got injured yesterday, and he had to step in and to open the batting against a very strong opposition, it was fantastic the way he batted," Mathews said.
The 30-year-old all-rounder said he was not bothered whether the victory against India will make their opponents respect them or not.
"Well, it doesn't matter if the opposition respects us or not. We are out to do a job, and we don't really think about what the opposition thinks (about us).
"I mean, no one really expected us to win (against India) as well, but we knew underneath that we have the talent and we have another opportunity to beat a fantastic team, which we did," Mathews said after his team's seven wicket win against India.
"Yeah, it was a very important game for us. You know, no one really expected us to win. That took a lot of pressure off ourselves, and we just went out there, expressed ourselves, and you can see what we can do when we play with a lot of freedom," Mathews said.
Sri Lanka now have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals if they beat Pakistan in their last Group B match.
"We don't want to think too far ahead. We just want to take one game at a time. Now it's (win vs India) done, and we look forward to our next game. It will be the same plan -- go out there with no expectations," Mathews said.