Pallekele: Irfan Pathan, who was India's star with his fine all-round performance, said his good batting towards the end of Indian innings gave him the confidence to bowl well as he picked up five Sri Lanka wickets in his side's win, here Saturday.
Pathan scored an unbeaten 29 and shared a valuable 77-run stand with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in India's score of 274 for 9. Pathan then scalped five wickets to help India beat Sri Lanka by 20 runs.
"God's grace. I was bowling well throughout the series. Had too many bad deliveries today but got five wickets. The batting gave me a lot of confidence, it came at the right time," Pathan said after being adjudged Man of the Match.
Pathan said the conditions too suited his style of bowling. "In Premadasa and here, the ball does swing with the humid conditions, and with the two new balls it does help swing the ball. It's a great feeling," he said.
Young Indian batsman Virat Kohli, who slammed two centuries in the series, was declared Man of the Series. Angelo Mathews, who led Sri Lanka as regular skipper Mahela Jaywardene was rested, acknowledged the gritty batting by Lahiru Thirimanne (77) and Jeevan Mendis (72). "Encouraging to see Thirimanne and Mendis taking on the challenge. Unfortunately we fell short by 20 runs, we gave away some runs on the field. The Indians have a very good batting line-up. But we did too many mistakes on specific days and that was the result of our downfall. Mendis works really hard and is a wonderful asset for us," Mathews said.
India skipper Dhoni said his partnership with Pathan was crucial in putting up a challenging target for Sri Lanka. "If one of me and Irfan got out, we may not have got to that score. So we played safe for a while. We still need to improve, not only in the bowling but also the batting. The guy who was set usually carried it forward but it's important that we dictate the bowling and score 15 runs more than the par score. If we are playing with part-time bowlers, we need to those 10 to 15 runs," he said.
Dhoni, who was seen limping during the Indian innings, said the injury was not serious. "It is not a major concern, it's not a big injury. Hopefully I'll play the next game," he said.
Dhoni said he and Pathan saved the big shots for the end and it made sense to play balls on merit. "This was a very good wicket to bat on. Gautam batted well, we had a very good platform. The last 10 overs we had to get a fair amount of runs, we knew it will get a bit easy to bat on in the second half. Most of the Sri Lankan fields are quite big, if it's not needed it is advisable to not go for the big shots. This outfield was quick and we could use the pace of the bowler," he said.