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Controversy lurks where Dilshan treads

Apart from being one of the most brutal opening batsmen of the current generation, Tillakaratne Dilshan is also Mr Controversial of the Sri Lankan cricket. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 10, 2011 01:47 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Apart from being one of the most brutal opening batsmen of the current generation, Tillakaratne Dilshan is also Mr Controversial of the Sri Lankan cricket.

In recent times, the opener has stumbled from one controversy to another, with the latest being the reports of him failing a dope test after Sri Lanka’s washed out encounter against Australia on Saturday.

He has, however, come clean out of the failed-dope charge. On Wednesday, on the eve of Sri Lanka’s Group ‘A’ tie against Zimbabwe, it emerged that Dilshan wasn’t even tested by anti-doping unit, let alone found positive for drug abuse.

“(What I can confirm is that) we had two players tested. Dilshan wasn’t one of them,” said Sri Lanka vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene. “Ajantha Mendis and Chamara Silva are the ones who were tested. I am not too sure where the story has come from, but there is no truth to it.”

Dilshan’s tryst with controversies started with his alleged misconduct during a tri-series in Zimbabwe last year. He captained the second-string team to title triumph, but his alleged misdemeanor cost him the vice-captaincy.

Then, he was found guilty of instructing off-spinner Suraj Randiv to bowl a no-ball to deny Virender Sehwag a century in the tri-series in Dambulla last August.

And then in the same match where he was rumored to have failed the dope test, he was caught up in a verbal spat with Australia’s speedster Shaun Tait, which resulted in skipper Kumar Sangakkara backing him in public.

But as with most of the top sportspersons, controversies have spurred Dilshan on, instead of bogging him down. After being reprimanded for coaxing Randiv into bowling that infamous no-ball, Dilshan smashed a whirlwind century against India in the tri-series final within a week of the incident.

That should leave Zimbabwe worried. Dilshan, who has scored just one fifty in last 10 matches, would be desperate to settle scores with his critics with a strong showing against a mediocre Zimbabwe.

If Dilshan hits form, just like Ross Taylor did the other day against Pakistan, Zimbabwe, who are in a must-win situation, would find no place to hide. If that happens, Zimbabwe could curse the local media for waking up the sleeping giant.

A Dilshan blitzkrieg will not only stabilize the slightly shaky Lankan ship, but also it would virtually end the race for top four slots in what’s the easier group of the two.