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February 9, 2009
Tillakaratne Dilshan, who will juggle captaincy and wicketkeeping in the upcoming Twenty20 international against India, has said Sri Lanka will benefit by persisting with him as an opener. In 11 matches as an opener, Dilshan averages 56.22 with one hundred and three half-centuries at a strike rate of 94.57, but felt there were a few issues that needed smoothening.
"I opened the batting in school. It is not something new for me to go and face the new ball," said Dilshan. "There are a few mistakes which I need to rectify. I think the team will benefit a lot by promoting me as opener.
"All these years as a middle order batsman I had to bat in the final 10-15 overs. I think as an opener I can make a bigger contribution to the team. I began going as opener in one-day matches for my club Bloomfield last season and I had indicated of my desire for that spot to my captain Mahela [Jayawardene]," Dilshan said. "I hope I can remain in the openers' slot for a long period but I am prepared to bat in any position the team wants me. If you become a cricketer you should be able to adjust to the needs of your team."
Dilshan said he had gained plenty of confidence since being promoted up the order, especially with the explosive veteran Sanath Jayasuriya at the other end. "As an opener it is easy to score runs off the first ten overs against the quick bowlers because the field is up and you can have only two fielders outside the circle," said Dilshan. "Batting with Sanath is a plus point. He is also an attacking batsman who goes for his shots and it makes the bowlers think before bowling at us because both are attacking the loose balls from either end."
Dilshan will captain Sri Lanka in their first Twenty20 at home, with Chamara Kapugedera as his deputy. He previously led Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 game against Pakistan last October, a match in which he also donned the wicketkeeping gloves. "I have been asked to keep wickets by the selectors to balance the side, which is a little inexperienced in this type of game," said Dilshan. "Wicketkeeping is also important because whenever the team needs [a wicketkeeper] I am there ready to take over."