Dilshan reveals sole regret in farewell

The damaging Sri Lanka opener bid farewell to international Cricket in his final match against Australia in Colombo

Having now played his final hand in Sri Lankan colours, Tillakaratne Dilshan revealed the single regret from his illustrious career was that he didn’t move up to open the batting earlier in his limited-overs career.

Dilshan’s international swansong was cut short when he edged paceman John Hastings to first slip in the second over of the second Twenty20 against Australia.

The 39-year-old walked off with helmet and bat aloft to rousing applause from the packed R. Premadasa Stadium crowd, as many held makeshift signs reading, ‘Thank You Dilshan’.

Dilshan kissed the ground before exiting the arena, as his decorated 17-year International career as a batman came to an end.

In a pre-match interview with the host broadcaster, the powerful opener admitted he wished he’d moved up to the top of the order earlier in his limited-overs career.

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“I think I should have taken the decision to move up to open earlier,” Dilshan said.

“I made that decision in 2009 but I should have made that a couple of years (before) to (break) more records.

“I realised that I can do more for the side as an opener.

“From 2009 to 2016 I scored 21 hundreds in one-dayers. That was a position I really enjoyed.

“That change in position career changed my career and I think I helped the side there a lot as well.”

While most surely assumed Dilshan's early dismissal signalled the end of his involvement in the match, the part-time off-spinner returned to devastating effect in Australia's innings.

Having only managed a meagre 128, Sri Lanka looked set for a 10-wicket drubbing when Australia raced to 0-93 in the ninth over. 

But the hosts sparked a dramatic collapse of 6-27, with Dilshan setting off in delighted celebrations after trapping Usman Khawaja lbw before having Matthew Wade caught at cover off a miscued reverse-sweep.

After finishing with excellent figures of 2-8 as Australia limped home with 13 balls to spare, Dilshan draped the Sri Lankan flag around his neck and completed a final lap of honour around the Colombo ground.

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Often overshadowed by Sri Lankan batting titans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, Dilshan nonetheless finishes as one of the finest players to hail from the small Island Nation.

The right-hander is one of only six men to have scored centuries in all three formats of the game and has 16 Test centuries under his belt. But it is against the white ball that Dilshan has made his name.

The inventor of the ‘Dilscoop’, a shot that’s been adopted by batsmen the world over and has undoubtedly changed one-day and T20 cricket, was named the Player of the Series at the 2009 World T20 and helped Sri Lanka lift the trophy at the 2014 edition of the tournament.

Dilshan compiled 22 ODI hundreds, putting him in the top ten among leading century-makers in the 50-over format, and finished with 10,290 runs at a tick under 40.

A remarkable feat considering that prior to 2009, at which point he was 10 years into his international career, Dilshan had managed just the one ODI ton, coming against the Netherlands in 2006.

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“I’m really happy with what I’ve done for 17 years for my country and my team,” he said.

“I didn’t look to break records. A few days back, I went back and looked at what I had done for 17 years.

“I have broken a lot of records, I’m really happy. I never played for the record, I always played for the team and country.”

Dilshan conceded he now hopes to pay back his family for the support they offered him in his long career. 

“Now is time to enjoy myself with the kids and the family, they have sacrificed a lot for the last 15-20 years.”

Meg Lanning Steve Smith