Dilshan says he thrives as an opener

Tillakaratne Dilshan says opening the innings has provided a late spark in his career.

updated: June 24, 2009 12:20 IST
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Sri Lanka:

Tillakaratne Dilshan, whose innovative batting earned him the player of the tournament award in the recently concluded World Twenty20, says opening the innings has provided a late spark in his career.

"I feel happy and proud about becoming the player of the series in a World Twenty20 series," Dilshan told reporters on returning to Sri Lanka on Wednesday after his team became runners-up in the tournament.

"The past year of my cricketing career has seen a change. I got an opportunity to open the innings and I took maximum advantage of it and was able to make a difference to the team and to my career."

The 32-year-old right-handed batsman has had a mediocre career while batting mostly at No.6 in one-day internationals and Twenty20 games until he was promoted to opener last year.

His average in Twenty20 games went from 18.80 runs in six matches as a No.6 to an impressive 54 in eight matches as an opener. His strike rate is 142 runs per 100 balls.

In one-day internationals he batted at No.6 in 87 matches with an average of 18 runs per innings. He doubled that average in the 11 matches in which he opened the innings.

Dilshan made 317 runs at an average of 52.83 in the tournament. His innovative shot right above the wicketkeeper has brought him much attention, with some commentators terming the shot as the "Dilscoop."

Sri Lanka had a successful Twenty20 campaign in England with an unbeaten run in the preliminary matches before losing to Pakistan by eight wickets in the final.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara rejected suggestions that selection blunders, by not making use of reserve players, caused Sri Lanka's defeat in the final.

"Unfortunately in a short tournament not everyone will get an equal chance, some people might not get a chance at all. We always try for the best of the team...and all selections are geared and based for that," he said.

Sangakkara said player-of-the-final Shahid Afridi, who made an unbeaten 54, was the impetus to Pakistan winning the title.

"The difference was that Afridi probably started thinking a bit more than he was doing before the tournament. Semifinal and the final, he was a completely different player," Sangakkara said.