Tillakaratne Dilshan is going to be the Sri Lankan wildcard this summer. While his form can sometimes go missing, Dilshan can be every bit as destructive as David Warner or Chris Gayle when he gets going. The opening batsman does not possess a traditional technique at the crease, but whatever he’s doing, it seems to be working.
In what has been a hot and cold Test career, Dilshan enters the Australia series with a handy average of 40.70. The big hitting opener celebrated his debut series in 1999 with a whirlwind 163 against Zimbabwe. Despite the early promise, this was one of only a handful of highlights in a patchy start to his life as a cricketer.
With his career meandering along, Dilshan finally knuckled down in 2009, producing a season most players can only dream about. A decision to move him to opener in all three forms of the game worked wonder, with Dilshan relishing the pressure of the new ball. Eleven centuries in total had people asking where the real Dilshan had been for the first ten years of his career.
The 2009 season started perfectly, with Dilshan smashing centuries in each innings against Bangladesh. He went on to reach triple figures against Pakistan, New Zealand and India to cement his spot in the Test side.
The 2011 season saw him named Sri Lankan captain. However, indifferent campaigns against England and South Africa saw him replaced after only 12 months in the job. The added responsibility did help his game, with the aggressive batsman hitting a career high 193 at the home of cricket, Lord’s.
Dilshan might be developing into a sound Test player, but his forte remains limited overs cricket. Dilshan’s unorthodox approach has served him well in an ODI career that has already reached 250 games. While he has enjoyed success against all other nations, Dilshan has developed a particular liking for the Indian bowlers. He has already smashed four centuries against the local rivals, including a career best 160* against them in Hobart earlier this year. He followed that score with another century against Australia.
T20 cricket was invented for people like Dilshan. His inventive style of play is ideally suited to the shortest form of the game. He has played IPL for the Delhi Daredevils and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. His influence on the game has been so profound that in 2009, he created his own shot, “the Dilscoop”. The audacious ramp over the wicketkeeper’s head has been employed by the bravest batsmen in the world. The cavalier stroke was a major factor in his maiden T20 century against the Australians last year in Pallekele.
There are few cricketers who instil more fear that Dilshan. The Australians have already experienced his wrath, and will need to be adventurous when they bowl to him. Throw in his more than handy off-spin and Dilshan is the prototype for the modern day cricketer.