London - Angelo Mathews says an inspirational session in the
nets with Kumar Sangakkara laid the foundations for Sri Lanka's stunning
Champions Trophy victory against India.
Sangakkara is retired from international duty, but the
legendary Sri Lanka batsman is currently playing for Surrey and he took the
opportunity to spend some time with his country's emerging youngsters before
Thursday's crucial clash with India.
Still in fine form with Surrey, Sangakkara opted against
coming out of retirement for the Champions Trophy, but the 39-year-old clearly
still has an influence off the field.
Sri Lanka were thrashed by South Africa in their opening
match last week but bounced back on Sangakkara's temporary home ground, chasing
down India's total of 321 to win by seven wickets at The Oval.
It was Sri Lanka's joint highest ODI run chase and kept
alive their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
Danushka Gunathilaka, standing in for the injured Chamara
Kapugedera, hit 76 off 72 balls while Kusal Mendis made 89 as the pair set in
motion an unlikely victory.
And Sri Lanka captain Mathews revealed some tips from
Sangakkara this week helped turn the tide.
"Kusal met Sanga to get some batting tips because he is
the king," Mathews said.
"We all look up to him and take advice from him, all
the batters. He taught us good things about how to play on these tracks.
"The guys met him, took a lot of advice and went out
there and did it today."
Gunathilaka's ODI career-best innings was especially
impressive as he would have been watching in the stands if Kapugedera hadn't
been ruled out with a knee injury suffered in practice on Wednesday.
Gunathilaka and Mendis put together a 159-run partnership
before Mathews (52) and Asela Gunaratne (34) finished the job with eight balls
In the midst of a major rebuilding project, Sri Lanka will
clinch an unexpected place in the last four if they beat Pakistan on Monday.
"For Danushka to walk into a game knowing he wasn't
even in the 15 until after Chamara got injured is impressive," Mathews
"He had to step in against a very strong opposition and
I was very impressed with how he batted.
"He and Kusal played with a lot of freedom and that set
us a platform and made it so much easier for myself and the middle order
"Asela's little cameo as well really won us the game at
the end so it was a fantastic batting effort."
India seemed to be in control after Shikhar Darwan scored
125, while Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni made 78 and 63 respectively.
But the holders paid the price for not pushing closer to 350
and now find themselves in a scrap to progress from Group B, where all four
teams have two points with one match left to play.
"I personally thought we had enough on the board,"
India captain Virat Kohli said.
"You have to give credit to the opposition as well. We
are not invincible. We are playing against a champion side.
"These are the top eight teams in the world so there
are no guarantees.
"We have to consolidate and then explode at the end,
that's how we play. We're not a side that always plays explosive cricket for
the 50 overs.
"But if a team has that kind of mindset and executes
their shots you have to take your hat off and sometimes say, 'well done'."
India must beat South Africa on Sunday to avoid a
"Every game is a quarter-final now," Kohli said.
"All teams are on two points and you have to win all
your games to go through. We are very clear about the situation."