ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele
We will peak from next game - Dilshan
Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Pallekele
March 10, 2011
Tillakaratne Dilshan has sent out a warning to other teams that Sri Lanka will start playing their best cricket from their game against New Zealand on March 18 onwards, and keep improving as the tournament reaches its knockout stages. Dilshan's all-round performance on Thursday - he scored a century and took four wickets - helped Sri Lanka qualify for the quarter-finals with a win over Zimbabwe, but he said it was from now on that they had to be on the top of their game.
"After March 18 we have to play our best cricket. We cannot afford to make mistakes with the quarter-final and semi-finals coming up," Dilshan said. "We know we have qualified but we can't take it easy for the next few matches. We have to play with 100% commitment from the New Zealand match."
Dilshan had gotten off to starts in three of Sri Lanka's previous four games in this World Cup, but had not kicked on to get the big score, on two occasions perishing to strokes he would not have been happy with. Against Canada in Hambantota, after reaching fifty, he hit a short and wide delivery straight to deep cover, and then against Kenya in Colombo, he seemed to be lining up for a big shot before deciding to fend a short delivery to the keeper, after making 44.
After those performances, Dilshan recognised the importance of him having gone on to score 144 on Thursday in Pallekele. "I am really happy with my batting and bowling performance. In the first couple of matches I got the starts but I didn't capitalise and get a big one. But today [Thursday] I did that and that's why I am happy with the hundred." His innings makes him the highest scorer in the tournament so far, with 283 runs at an average of 56.60.
It was not just about Dilshan's batting on Thursday though. He came on to do a job with the ball, and in just three overs snapped up figures of 4 for 4, his best in one-day internationals. He was even on a hat-trick at one point and would have got it had Mahela Jayawardene held on to a tough catch from Graeme Cremer at slip. Dilshan put his success with the ball down to the fact that Sri Lanka played only one of their frontline spinners on Thursday, which meant his responsibility as a bowler increased
"We usually have two or three spinners in the line-up, but today there was only [Muttiah] Muralitharan, so I knew at some point of time I would have to bowl. I seized that chance and I hope the captain will have lots of confidence in my bowling in the future. I think I can contribute a lot with my bat as well as ball and as a wicketkeeper in this World Cup." Dilshan does also keep wickets but is not expected to unless his captain Kumar Sangakkara suffers an injury.
As far as missing the hat-trick was concerned, Dilshan said he was not that disappointed because Jayawardene, who dropped the catch on the hat-trick ball, had taken a stunner the previous ball. "Mahela's dropped catch can happen to anyone in the match. He created a great catch before that and made it a hat-trick ball."
There was another milestone mised as well: two more runs would have taken Dilshan past Aravinda de Silva's score of 145 against Kenya in 1996, giving him the highest score by a Sri Lanka batsman in World Cups. But Dilshan said he was not even aware of the statistic until after he was dismissed.
"It was only after I got to the dressing room that someone told me that if I had scored another one run I would have passed Aravinda's record. At that time nobody can send a message. It was the 45th over. But I am not worried about messages and I am not thinking of records. I am always playing for my team. After the 45th over I was trying to get the maximum runs for my team."
Although Sri Lanka won comfortably, their fielding in the first ten overs of Zimbabwe's chase was not up to the mark, and Dilshan noted the room for improvement. "At the moment we are playing really good cricket and everything is going really well for us. We can't say we are not going to make any mistakes; anybody can make mistakes sometimes while batting or on the field. We have to minimise the mistakes coming to the quarter-final and keep going for the rest of the tournament."
Sri Lanka's next game, against New Zealand on March 18, is not in Sri Lanka as all their other group games have been, but in Mumbai. Dilshan, though, put a positive spin on the slightly puzzling scheduling, saying playing at the Wankhede Stadium would give them an opportunity to get used to the renovated ground, where the finals of the World Cup will be held on April 2.
"If we qualify to play in the final, we'll play in Mumbai. It's a good opportunity to play another match there before the final. We are happy playing New Zealand in Mumbai."
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