x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Sri Lanka's Dilshan is having a ball

Opener enjoying cricket after scoring 71 runs and taking three wickets to crush Bangladesh.

Sri Lankan cricketer Tillekeratne Dilshan, centre, celebrates with captain Kumar Sangakkara, left, and Nuwan Kulasekara after the dismissal of Mohammad Ashraful.
Sri Lankan cricketer Tillekeratne Dilshan, centre, celebrates with captain Kumar Sangakkara, left, and Nuwan Kulasekara after the dismissal of Mohammad Ashraful.

Tillakaratne Dilshan confirmed his impressive return to form with a match-winning all-round performance yesterday to help Sri Lanka, the host nation, hand a crushing 126-run defeat to Bangladesh in their Asia Cup clash in Dambulla. The opener had been out of sorts, most notably in the World Twenty20 and in the Indian Premier League before that, until he scored an unbeaten 60 and then followed that up with a century in the recent tour of Zimbabwe.

The dashing right-hander followed up those knocks with a 51-ball 71 yesterday to lay the foundation for the huge total of 312 for four. Dilshan shared in a 111-run opening stand with Upul Tharanga in a flying start for Sri Lanka that saw the home side rattle along at 10 runs an over. He hit a six and 11 boundaries before being caught and bowled by Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain. "I am really enjoying my batting at the moment," Dilshan said. "In the first 10 overs, I try to attack, then settle down to play longer, unfortunately I got out today. I am really happy with the bowling, I enjoy bowling."

Dilshan was equally destructive with the ball as he claimed three wickets to derail Bangladesh's run chase and help dismiss them for 186. Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Chanaka Welegedara took two apiece. "You never know what to expect of the Dambulla wicket, but the way Dilshan batted, there is no pressure on you," Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain who made 52, said. "Tharanga supported him well, and Mahela Jayawardene [43] got us the momentum back. Great to have this feel in the dressing room, especially from Zimbabwe, the way they were focused on winning, it has really rubbed onto us."

Al Hasan was disappointed with the defeat and felt Sri Lanka's breezy start with the bat was crucial to the outcome. "We didn't start ball, especially with the new ball," he said. "Dilshan played some magnificent shots, and took away the game from us. It is frustrating, we have played good cricket for the last 12 months, but suddenly in the last four games we haven't played to our potential. The wicket was good, there was no reason for not batting well."

Tamim Iqbal hit three fours off Nuwan Kulasekara in the first over, giving the visitors a flying start in reply. But Imrul Kayes (3) failed to emulate his partner and fell to Kulasekara in the third over. Junaid Siddique (38) joined the party and hit two fours in the sixth over and repeated the show in the next. But Muralitharan had the last laugh when he sent the batsman packing in the 14th over, thanks to a stunning catch by Kulasekara at deep square leg.

Iqbal smashed Murali for a big six two overs later to ease the pressure. The batsman brought 100 up for his side along with Mohammad Ashraful in the 19th over and completed his 14th ODI fifty in the next. However, Dilshan did not let the batsman enjoy his achievement and got him stumped in the same over. The bowler made further inroads when he dismissed Ashraful (nine) two overs later, and sent Mushfiqur Rahim (six) to the pavilion soon after.

Murali struck once again in the middle overs when he dismissed Shakib Al Hasan (20). Mahmudullah (nine) followed the procession and fell to Welegedara in the 36th over. Malinga ended Naeem Islam's (15) struggle in the next. Mashrafe Mortaza and Shafiul Islam both went cheaply, ending the visitors' hopes of a fightback. 

* PA