London, June 14: Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara feels experience of a player counts but at the same time it was necessary to have the right mix of youth and seasoned campaigners in the team.
Sangakkara was the hero for Sri Lanka as he guided the team to a 7-wicket victory over England in a Group A match of Champions Trophy. The left-hander used all his experience to guide a tough chase of 294. Sangakkara remained unbeaten till the victory was achieved, scoring 134.
"Well, it's hard to say whether it was experience or whether it was just the way we adapted really quickly maybe. It's probably a bit of both, but if you're young and fresh, you have very little fear, and we saw it from guys like Joe Root who came in and they were lapping and reverse lapping right from the start, which was great to watch," the 35-year-old said after the match on Thursday (June 13).
"But we had, like you said, two or three experienced guys who were proper batsmen, but Kulasekara coming in showed that he can handle a bat, as well. Experience counts, but you need to have that good mixture of youth, as well," he added.
Sangakkara said they had planned to play out James Anderson's overs. "We planned to try and get through Jimmy Anderson's overs. We know how dangerous Jimmy can be as well as Swann, and everyone else in support managed to get through those tough periods pretty well. It's a shame, we had our chances, we probably should have won in Cardiff, we tried everything we could, and probably lost the game through no fault of our own, but coming here and winning this was a good, I think, confidence boost for us going into Australia."
On asked whether he was surprised to see Nuwan Kulasekara sent out to bat at number 5, Sangakkara said: "Well, it's strange, isn't it? If that didn't work, I think the team would have been torn to shreds, Angelo would have taken a lot of stick and criticism saying what was he doing and what were the coaches thinking. But when it does work it's fantastic. Decisions like that can go both ways. I thought it was really strong of Angelo and the coaching staff to have taken that position, and everyone in our dressing room backs the decisions that everyone takes, really supports each other, and it's great to see that it worked. Kulasekara batted very intelligently, and then that was the difference in that situation because it was easy for him to come and try and hit every ball, but he batted sensibly through power play and then accelerated right after."
Kulasekara's promotion was a masterstroke as he smashed a quick half century to take the pressure off Sangakkara.
In Group A, all four teams Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England and Australia still have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.