It was just another practice session Sri Lanka were having at the Oval on Thursday, until something dramatic happened. Tillakaratne Dilshan walked in to bat, started hitting everywhere and one of his shots struck the groundsman on the head. Such is his form these days that anything he strikes goes out of sight.
Ever since he was dropped for the Bangladesh and Zimbabwe ODI series last year, he's emerged stronger — and perhaps more innovative. "When I was dropped from the team, I was pretty hurt and wanted to get back on my terms," he said adding, "I went back, played domestic cricket and scored plenty of runs for my side." Those mountain of runs earned him a quick recall and he has never looked back ever since.
He saw the vacant opening slot and grabbed it with both hands. "I forced myself up the order during domestic matches…I thought this was the chance to alter the course of my career. It has worked for me," he said.
For Dilshan, opening the batting wasn't a responsibility; it was something he genuinely enjoyed. "I like to bat on top and enjoy playing big shots in the powerplay. I am really enjoying my cricket at the moment as an opener," he said.
Not often does one see Sanath Jayasuriya's opening partner overshadowing him in both stroke-play and score. But Dilshan has been doing so consistently. "I am an attacking cricketer. I don't care about the formats --- be it T20, one-dayers or Tests. I try to go after the bowling and don't care about the scoreboard," he said.
The 'Dilscoop', the highlight of Dilshan's batting in the World T20 was invented and perfected in South Africa during the IPL. Speaking about his new creation, Dilshan said, "I started playing the paddle sweep to the yorker. And if the ball was a little short, I just thought it would be a good idea to play it behind the stumps and automatically have the bowler in two minds."
The confidence with which Dilshan plays is what makes them look good. "I played the shot against the bowling machines in SA…just wanted to gain confidence before I used the weapon effectively. If you're in two minds, you can't do anything," he said.