DILSHAN – THERE’S BEEN NEVER ONE LIKE HIM
by Rex Clementine
A reporter once informed T.M. Dilshan that the scoop shot had brought about his downfall umpteen times and he should reconsider playing it frequently. Dilshan said that there is a 90 percent chance of him scoring a boundary off the shot and a ten percent chance of getting dismissed. He added that he would trust his instincts and play the stroke first ball in the next game if it was in the zone. True to form he did it. The reporter never gave Dilshan batting tips after that Dilshan turned 44 yesterday and many anecdotes relating to him were recalled on social media.
Four Sri Lankans have scored more than 10,000 runs in ODI cricket. The usual suspects are Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene, people hardly remember Dilshan’s name. It has been a case throughout his career. He always lived in the shadows of Mahela and Sanga. But make no mistake. He was a vital cog in the Sri Lankan wheel for more than a decade and mighty effective too.
There is nothing in cricket that he could not do. He was a prominent figure in the middle order filling in the big shoes of Arjuna Ranatunga. Then the selectors asked him to move up the order as Sanath Jayasuriya was set to bring the curtain down on his remarkable career. How did he fill these shoes? Effortless.
Dilshan played his last game for Sri Lanka two months before his 40th birthday. Even at that stage he was the team’s best fielder – by a country mile. The selectors were at ease when Dilshan was in the side as they could be flexible and experiment. He could keep wickets. He could bowl ten overs of tidy off-spin. There was nothing in the game of cricket that was impossible for him. He was a Jack of all trade and a master of them too.
Dilshan was the Hobson’s choice for captaincy in 2011. A tour of England was his first assignment. He faced many challenges. The team’s premier fast bowler retired hastily. The players arrived in England in different batches giving priority to their IPL commitments and Sri Lanka looked a team in disarray. True to form they were blown away for 82 runs in the opening Test in Cardiff to lose by an innings. It was time for Dilshan to lead from the front. He surely did in the next Test posting a career best 193 at Lord’s and in the process broke Sidath Wettimuny’s record for the highest individual score at the Home of Cricket by a Sri Lankan – a record that had stood for more than a quarter century. Ironically, it was Wettimuny who had picked Dilshan from total oblivion in 1999.
The rumblings continued. Despite the setbacks Sri Lanka won their maiden Test match in South Africa when they overcame the Proteas in Durban. Dilshan’s leadership skills should have been celebrated. Yet, he was sacked unceremoniously at the end of the tour. The then President of Sri Lanka Cricket had conspired with a senior player to remove Dilshan after the tour come what may. It was a deal, sealed at Perera Gardens.
You tend to get the feeling that some seniors were disruptive elements during Dilshan’s captaincy. Dilshan captained the side in nine Tests away from home. There was one particular senior who did not make a single half-century in those nine games. Yet, he shamelessly took up the captaincy when Dilshan was sacked.
Next up Australia. If someone did something wrong to you, you would naturally want to give them a taste of their own medicine? Not Dilshan. He came off with flying colours in Australia in the tri-nation competition finishing as the highest run getter of the tournament. Mind you this was the very next series after he had been sacked as skipper. His 513 was more than that of David Warner (506), Virat Kohli (373) et al. So next time you hear rumours questioning Dilshan’s honesty do keep in mind that Perera Gardens and not Maitland Place used to run our cricket a decade ago.
Sri Lanka level series with big win in second ODI
Sri Lanka bounced back to beat Afghanistan by 132 runs on Sunday to square the three-match one-day series in Suriyawewa yesterday. It was Sri Lanka’s biggest win over Afghanistan in ODIs and makes amends for its disappointing performance in the first ODI on Friday, which they lost by six wickets,
Having set Afghanistan a stiff 324-run target, fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera dismissed the dangerous Rahmanulah Gurbaz cheaply for two runs to give his side an early advantage. Although Afghanistan put together two strong partnerships after that, the required run rate kept climbing and the Afghans lost their way trying to keep pace.
Opening batsman Ibrahim Zardan continued his good form, posting 54 runs while captain Hashmatullah Shahidi top scored with 57 runs, but once Sri Lanka dismissed the top order there was not much resistance from the rest of the batters.From 146 for two, Afghanistan collapsed to be bowled out for 191 runs in 42.1 overs, losing their last eight wickets for just 45 runs.
Spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva shared six wickets between them to seal a comprehensive win for the home side. Sri Lanka’s batting put on a show giving the team confidence ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe this month.
Afghanistan have already qualified for the World Cup and despite the heavy defeat on Sunday, will feel positive with star Rashid Khan expected to feature in the final game on Wednesday. The leg-spinner was ruled out of the first two games with a back injury.
Half-centuries by Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne helped Sri Lanka post their commanding total. While Mendis top scored with 78 runs off 75 balls with seven fours and one six, Karunaratne, who was recalled for this series to stabilize the batting, made 52 off 62 balls with seven fours. Opener Pathum Nissanka contributed 43 runs while Sadeera Samarawickrama, featuring in an ODI for the first time since 2019, made 44 off 46 balls.
There was some big hitting by the lower middle order with captain Dasun Shanaka chipping in with 23 runs while Wanindu Hasaranga finished things off in style with an unbeaten 29 off 12 balls with four fours and a six. Dhananjaya de Silva was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 29 and three wickets.
Tharushi wins silver, Uththara clinches bronze at Asian Junior Athletics Championships
By Reemus Fernando
Ratnayake Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne and Holy Cross College, Gampaha sprinter Jayeshi Uththara shared the silver and bronze medals respectively of the women’s 400 metres to give a winning start to Sri Lanka’s Asian Junior Athletics Championship campaign on day one of the event in South Korea on Sunday.
Karunaratne and Uththara reached the final as the second and third fastest from the heats held in the morning and those positions remained unchanged as they finished second and third respectively in the final.
Karunaratne clocked 53.70 seconds to finish second behind India’s Rezoana Mallick Heena who returned a time of 53.31 seconds for the gold. Uththara clocked 55.51 seconds for her bronze.
Commenting on their achievements Sri Lanka Athletics in a statement said that it was the first time in almost three decades that two Sri Lankan female athletes had won medals in a single event at the Asian Junior Championships.
The track and field governing body was referring to the gold and silver doubles of legendary Susanthika Jayasinghe and Damayanthi Dharsha who shared the gold and silver medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres with championship records at the 1994 edition held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
At the last edition held in Gifu, Japan Sri Lanka’s men’s pair of Aruna Dharshana and Pasindu Kodikara won the gold and silver medals in the men’s 400 metres. Karunaratne who is trained by veteran coach Susantha Fernando is set to compete in the women’s 800 metres final today where she will be the favourite for gold.
She returned an Asian leading time of 2:01.39 seconds at the selection trail held in March though her preparation for the event was plagued by a sickness forcing her to skip the recently held Junior National Championships. Tharushi will enter today’s race as the third fastest 800 metres runner in the world this year.
Dominant Sri Lanka claw back to level series
Sri Lanka came up with a dominant show with both bat and ball to stage a strong comeback and level the three-match series against Afghanistan on Sunday (June 4). Having lost the first ODI, the hosts staged a commendable comeback with their top four laying the platform for a 300-plus total which was then defended with ease as Afghanistan fell short by 132 runs.
Sri Lanka 323/6 in 50 overs (Kusal Mendis 78, Dimuth Karunaratne 52; Mohammad Nabi 2/52) beat Afghanistan 191 in 42.1 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 57, Ibrahim Zadran 54; Dhananjaya de Silva 3/39) by 132 runs
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