Dilshan contributed as much as Sanga and Mahela did - Mathews
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has put Tillakaratne Dilshan's contributions on par with those of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, ahead of Dilshan's final ODI in Dambulla on Sunday. Dilshan was the fourth Sri Lanka batsman to 10,000 ODI runs, and he has the third-highest number of hundreds with 22.
"Dilshan has been an absolute brilliant servant for Sri Lankan cricket over the past 17 years," Mathews said. "I think he has equally done the service that Mahela and Sanga did, and we're going to miss him a lot. Unfortunately, he had called it a day. We respect that decision and the whole team wishes him the very best."
Several former players have also delivered glowing appraisals of Dilshan's career. Former team-mates Jayawardene and Sangakkara said Dilshan deserved a grand farewell on Twitter. Sangakkara was particularly complimentary, stating that Dilshan, along with Sanath Jayasuriya, had been Sri Lanka's "greatest match-winners".
Arjuna Ranatunga has also been among the former captains paying tribute, labelling Dilshan's all-round aptitude a captain's dream. In addition to his 10,248 runs ODI runs - ahead of his final ODI - Dilshan has taken 106 wickets, claimed 122 catches, and made one stumping during one of several stints as replacement wicketkeeper.
"Dilshan started his career as a middle-order batsman, then he moved on to become an opener," Ranatunga told the Island. "Opening the batting is the toughest thing in cricket. There's a lot at stake for an opener and not many players excel in that discipline. Dilshan had an outstanding career as an opener in all three formats. He was also a brilliant fielder and an intelligent bowler. All captains wish they have players like Dilshan in their ranks.
"Dilshan could change games quickly. The dilscoop that he introduced has been played effectively by cricketers in shorter formats of the game with great success. Like Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath and Romesh Kaluwitharana, he left his mark in cricket."
Sri Lanka will play two more ODIs in the series after Dilshan's exit, and the opening combination in those matches will likely feature two of the three young opening candidates: Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva.
"It's going to be a tough task to fill his boots but we've see the youngsters taking lot of responsibility in the recent past," Mathews said. "We're really thankful to Dilshan and our ambition is to try and win this match for him."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando