Dubai: The Twenty20 format is sheer entertainment and the format is blessed with a great entertainer in Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan. It’s a treat to watch him bat, as the aggression and timing with which he plays his shots are spectacular — and he surprises by playing shots it was previously believed were impossible to execute.
Be it a bowler bowling at a speed of 140km/h or a fine spinner, Dilshan will move away, make room, and thrash them with ease. Many have wondered how he plays those strokes, which usually race to the boundary in a flash. He has an uncanny ability to pick the ball and play shots that can get him the maximum benefit.
It is the Twenty20 format that got the best out of Dilshan. He executed strokes which were never before seen in the game, including his scoop shot over the wicketkeeper’s head, which later was named after him, the ‘Dilscoop’. Today, the shot which shocked bowlers and confused captains, is used by many other batsmen in this format.
Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd gave him the finest compliment after first watching him play the ‘Dilscoop’. “I’m not sure how he manages to play that scoop shot — if I had tried that when I played I think I would have ended up with a mouth full of ball — but it was wonderful entertainment.”
When Dilshan is at the crease, captains have found it tough to set a field as he can pick the gaps with immaculate accuracy. Before anyone can realise, he is racing towards his half-century. He hates to defend and if he does it must be from a really good ball.
In the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup, Dilshan was at his best. He scored 317 runs, tormenting every team and rightfully bagging the player of the tournament award. Dilshan hit more boundaries than any other player in the tournament — 46 fours and three sixes. The next best was Jacques Kallis and he had only 28 fours and four sixes.
Dilshan is one player who any Twenty20 team would love to have. Not only can he bat, but he can also bowl tight off breaks and is one of the finest fielders in the game — he can even keep wicket if required. Once in a match in Adelaide be produced four run outs.
It does not bother Dilshan whether it is Twenty20, Test or one-dayer, he loves to play the same way, going for his shots. Rightly enough, Dilshan is one of only five batsmen in the world who has hit an international century in all three forms of the game.
During the Pakistan-Sri Lanka series earlier this year, UAE fans got to see a lot of him closely. As a person he is very calm and one wonders how he turns into an aggressive batsman at the crease. Once when I asked him how he had developed this aggressive trait, he remarked with his characteristic smile: “I want everyone to enjoy my knock. I also like to give my team a good start so that we can post a decent total.”
Dilshan can be devastating on Sri Lankan wickets, which are familiar to him. Backed by thousands of his fans, who will be screaming for his sixes, one may see Dilshan at his aggressive best during the Twenty20 World Cup.