London:Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara hailed Tillekaratne Dilshan as a "pioneer" on Friday after the opener hit an unbeaten 96 to lead his side past West Indies and into the World Twenty20 final.
Sri Lanka cruised to a comfortable 57-run win at the Oval and will now take on Pakistan in the final at Lord's on Sunday.
"I have run out of superlatives for Dilshan. He is a pioneer stroke-maker in Twenty20," said Sangakkara.
"The best thing is that he understands his role and has become very responsible and mature. He has finally understood how good he is."
Dilshan's knock was the centrepiece of Sri Lanka's 158 for five with his 57-ball innings, which featured two sixes and 12 fours, the equal third-best in Twenty20 international history.
Fellow opener Sanath Jayasuriya (24) and Angelo Mathews (12 not out) were the only other Sri Lankan batsmen to reach double figures.
Mathews then took three wickets in the first over of the West Indies reply and the Caribbean side never recovered as they finished on 101 all out with captain Chris Gayle carrying his bat for 63 not out.
"It's Mathews's first major international tour and you can't ask for much more than three wickets in the first over," added Sangakkara.
"To get three top order batsmen out is a great start. We have a great bowling attack, they are all thinking cricketers.
"Now we will take this confidence into the final against Pakistan. We'll concentrate on getting our basics right, we'll be responsible and execute our game plan."
Dilshan said he was learning all the time in the international arena.
"I got the start I wanted. I've been in good form in the last six months in the IPL and in international cricket," said the opener, who was named man of the match.
Gayle said the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow after his bowlers had limited the flamboyant Sri Lankans to 158-5.
"I'm very disappointed. I thought batting was our strength," said Gayle.
"Dilshan took the game away from us. But we have struggled to get a start and get runs on the board.
"We'll come back as a better unit and learn things from this."