Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Dambulla August 1, 2009

Sangakkara hails 'very special player'

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara praised his fast bowlers and singled out the unbeaten 95-run partnership between Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Kapugedera as the key factor in the team's victory over Pakistan in the second ODI at Dambulla.

"It did not go as we hoped it would, but I will give credit to the bowlers for doing a wonderful job with the new ball. They did exactly what we wanted them to do on a fresh wicket," Sangakkara said. "It was mature knocks from Kapugedera and Samaraweera that really sealed the deal for us."

Kapugedera, who was named Man of the Match, came to the crease with Sri Lanka in trouble at 44 for 3, chasing 168. His steady knock of 67 in 97 balls in the company of Samaraweera ensured Sri Lanka suffered no further setbacks and the hosts coasted to victory in the 45th over.

He has had a stop-start career, failing to cement his place in the side since his debut in 2006. "Kapugedera is a very special player who has had a few good years and a few bad years," Sangakkara said. "As long as he is working hard, is disciplined and shows the commitment that we want from him, he will be an asset to Sri Lanka cricket."

Pakistan's tour of Sri Lanka began with the first Test on July 4, and will see the teams compete in three Tests, five ODIs and one Twenty20 match in less than 40 days. Sangakkara made a case for reducing the work load on his fast bowlers, but said the team has the bench strength to cope with the load. "It is very difficult playing the Test series with almost back to back ODIs. That is a reality we've got to deal with," he said. "It will be tough physically and mentally, but we have the bench strength and reserve bowlers who can share the load."

Chamara Kapugedera said his knock was special because he was making a comeback to the Sri Lankan team. "Any score of over fifty is very important, but this is a very special one because I've been out of the side and I came back and scored a fifty," Kapugedera said. "It was also an important innings for the team because we needed to win this match.

"I haven't been in the side for 2-3 months and I wanted to do well. I've been training hard in the last few months and it worked out today. I've been working with my coaches really hard to come back to the side. I hope I can continue this run."

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam blamed his team's poor batting for the defeat. "I don't think it's a lack of confidence but it's just bad batting that cost us the match. Probably we were short by 30 odd runs. If we had scored 200 runs we had a chance, but some of the shot selection from our batsmen was not right," he said.