Farveez Maharoof, the 22-year-old Lankan, was ecstatic about his career-best 6 for 14 that helped Sri Lanka whip the West Indies and top the qualifiers of the ICC Champions Trophy, at the Brabourne stadium here on Saturday.
Maharoof's haul was also the best individual bowling performance in the Champions Trophy so far. "(It feels) Fantastic. You can't ask for more," Maharoof said after the match. "I'm just overjoyed with my performance. I didn't have a good time in the last match but my hard work paid off and I'm really happy for my team."
Maharoof was taken for 37 runs off four overs by the Zimbabwe batsmen on Tuesday. Earlier, in the first game of the mini-World Cup, the Bangladesh batsmen had scored 47 off his seven overs last week.
"I just assessed my bowling with respect to the wicket," he said. "I thought in Ahmedabad I gave a bit too much width, and got driven through the off side. Here I set a goal for myself to bowl wicket to wicket. (Captain) Mahela (Jayawardene) and (coach) Tom (Moody) spoke to me before the match and really backed me up. I just went out there and kept it simple."
Skipper Jayawardene was full of praise for the youngster. "He worked with Tom on his run-up, looked at videos of his bowling, worked hard and today bowled nice and straight," said Jayawardene. "These guys know that it's their responsibility to improve themselves."
Maharoof was honest to admit "there were a few bad shots played", yet he said the pitch didn't offer much help. "It was a good pitch. It didn't do a lot," he said. "It's just that we bowled well as a group. There were some bad shots as well, but overall we bowled well. I don't find any bad things about the wicket, it was a good track."
Sri Lanka, who now have a 10-match unbeaten streak, will now be grouped with Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand in Group A. Despite having a great run, Jayawardene avoided making any big statements.
"From the beginning we haven't put pressure on ourselves by saying we'll win the tournament," he said. "We want to play good cricket and compete. All the guys have put in a lot of effort in practices and matches and that's all I can ask of the group. It's a tough tournament but we'll make sure we compete."
Analysing the team's performance on Saturday, Jayawardene said: "Even when we're winning we're looking to see what mistakes we made and how we can improve our game. That has been the battle for us in the last six months. If we're really critical about the performance today we'd say that we bowled too many no-balls and need to improve on that."