Tillakaratne Dilshan seems to have found a Philosopher’s Stone, one that turns anything it touches into gold. The 33-year-old has had a stupendous 2009 and whatever responsibility he has taken on in the last 10 months, he has acquitted himself admirably.
After making a successful transition from the middle order to opening the innings in limited-overs cricket, Dilshan is scripting another success story in the longer format.
There were doubts over his participation in the first Test after he suffered an ankle injury during training in Mumbai but his eagerness to be fit for the game was evident when he batted in the nets despite the doctors advising him three-four days rest.
On Tuesday, the Delhi Daredevils player scored his fifth Test century in this calendar year and second ton as an opener in three games to put the visitors in a comfortable position against India.
Dilshan was pushed up the order during the Test series against New Zealand in August since the hosts were struggling to find a reliable opening pair after the retirement of Sanath Jayasuriya. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring 92 and 123 not out to help beat the visitors in the opening Test in Galle by 96 runs.
After that match, Dilshan said opening the innings gave him greater freedom to dominate the opposition and on Tuesday he showed what he meant.
“I think the change in batting spot has worked for me. Once I get a start I can go on to bat longer,” Dilshan said.
“I like the ball to come on to the bat. With the new ball, I can play my shots and that helps,” he added.
The right-hander played himself in on a wicket that had very little in it for the bowlers and once he got set, bowling to him was nothing less than an ordeal.
Dilshan reached 50 in 65 balls and took just 55 more deliveries for the next sixty runs. He was particularly severe on Amit Mishra, stepping out to the leg-spinner every time he tossed the ball. He finally fell while going for another big hit off Zaheer Khan.
One thing is certain, an in-form Dilshan could be a thorn in India’s flesh in this series.