'On slower wickets, we can beat any team' - Dhananjaya de Silva

Sri Lanka's total seemed sub-par, but a key innings from Angelo Mathews set the tempo for his team in a famous win

Sri Lanka had several heroes at Headingley, with captain Dimuth Karunaratne in particular praising the contributions of his two senior stars, Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews, for helping orchestrate a famous World Cup win over the hosts and pre-tournament favourites.
Having decided to bat, Sri Lanka got off to a poor start at 3 for 2 in the third over. However, after an exhilarating counterattack from Avishka Fernando, which twice saw him hook 90mph Jofra Archer deliveries for six, the middle order contributed significantly for the first time in the tournament, Kusal Mendis making 46 and Mathews anchoring the innings to the finish with an unbeaten 85.
Mathews had gone into this game having made scores of 1, 0, 0 and 9 since his ODI comeback last month, but dredged deep to produce a performance of substance. Perhaps the identity of the opposition helped - Mathews averages more than 50 against England and has made four fifties in his last six ODI innings against them - as well as the venue: in 2014, he played one of his finest Test knocks at Headingley to set up a series win for his team.
While Sri Lanka's score of 232 for 9 did not look the most imposing at halfway, Mathews had discerned that the surface was unlikely to get easier to bat on.
"It looked like a good flat wicket that played nicely but when we played on it, you could see it got slower and slower," Karunaratne said. "Angelo told us it was getting slower and slower, we couldn't get to 280-300 but we could get to 240 and that would be a good total.
"He is a good finisher and he did a really good job. And he read the game very well on this track. The middle order was important once the openers got out and he did a good job.
"The wicket gave us an advantage, we thought we had a chance. But we needed to take a couple of wickets and we were in the game."
Malinga ensured they would do just that, removing England's openers and then coming back to dismiss Joe Root and Jos Buttler on the way to figures of 4 for 43 - adding another match-winning performance to his storied World Cup record. He could have finished the game with a five-for, too, had Mendis managed to hold on to a tough chance off Ben Stokes in Malinga's final over.
Armed with Mathews' intel on the pitch and Malinga's belief that they could pull off an upset, Sri Lanka had belied their status as the ninth-ranked team out of ten at the tournament.
"Mali is a legend," Mendis said. "He has a lot of variation, an experienced player, he's played a lot of T20. I think he is a match-winning bowler. He's telling the fast bowlers, spinners to use variation. He told the players, 'We can do it today'.
"I missed a catch and was scared. When we got the [final] wicket, I gave thanks."
After Malinga had shaken England in their chase of 233, Dhananjaya de Silva then turned the heat up further with three wickets in nine deliveries. His dismissal of the dangerous Moeen Ali, caught at long-off a ball after he had hit Dhananjaya for six, was particularly damaging for England's chances.
Asked if he thought England were still the world's best players of spin, as Karunaratne had suggested on the eve of the match, Dhananjaya replied with a smile: "They are, they played very well in Sri Lanka last time they came there. This wicket was hard to bat on, it wasn't coming on to the bat. We bowled tight areas and very good lines. I got three wickets in two overs and turned the game around.
"[Moeen] can hit a long ball, so his wicket was the main thing for us. He hit me for six the previous ball, so I just slowed it up and bowled a bit wide."
Dhananjaya described the contributions of Malinga and Mathews as "key" and added that Sri Lanka had renewed confidence of gate-crashing the last four, despite complaints from the team's management earlier in the tournament that pitches were being prepared to their disadvantage.
"These are slower wickets, not the greentops - on these wickets we can beat any team," Dhananjaya said.
Sri Lanka now sit fifth on the table, one point behind India (albeit having played two games more) and with a chance to capitalise against a demoralised South Africa in their next game, at Chester-le-Street next Friday. Karunaratne was however keen that his players do not get too far ahead of themselves.
"We want to go one by one, we are not thinking about it. The next game is South Africa so we want to play and win that match so that is our main focus," he added. "We will keep focusing on that match, if we can win that we will plan for the next game."

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick