Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Dambulla November 16, 2013

'It's easier for me to bat with Mahela' - Dilshan


Tillakaratne Dilshan has said he is more comfortable opening with Mahela Jayawardene than with any of the young players who have been trialled in that position this year, after the pair put on a 91-run stand at better than a run-a-ball against New Zealand. The partnership was the highest in the match, and had set up Sri Lanka's 211 for 8 in 33 overs, in their series-leveling victory.

"It's easier for me to bat with Mahela because he's a very experienced cricketer and sometimes he guides me as well," Dilshan said. "It's not the same when batting with a youngster. Even today, I got struck but Mahela came and hit couple of boundaries to put the pressure on bowlers.

"I have no particular liking for an opening partner but to be honest, it's easier batting with Mahela."

Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera and Dimuth Karunaratne have all been tried in the position this year, as the team attempts to lock in the opening combination that will appear for them in the 2015 World Cup. Both Jayawardene and Dilshan are intent on playing in that tournament, and average 50.61 together, scoring at 5.78 an over. Both Dilshan and Jayawardene also have considerably better ODI records as openers than they do in any other position.

Dilshan had also bowled six overs in New Zealand's 25-over innings, and captain Angelo Mathews said his heavy use of spinners early in the innings had been a ploy to rush through the overs and ensure a result. Spin bowlers delivered 16 of the first 20 overs, taking all but one of the six wickets to fall, but it was bad light, not rain, that stopped play early.

"Thankfully, we got the 20 overs done. If we didn't get the 20 overs, that would have been another disappointment as we would have lost the series. That's why I bowled the three spinners and they responded brilliantly."

Rangana Herath had conceded 25 runs with a wet ball in the final over of the second ODI to hand New Zealand victory, but Sri Lanka refused to drop him in favour of another bowler. He returned Sri Lanka's best figures in the decider, taking 3 for 25.

"Every captain should have confidence in his team. You cannot brand a bowler good or bad for his performance in just one match," Mathews said. "Conditions had a lot of say in the second match, but players like Rangana Herath, Sachithra [Senanayake] and Dilshan have won many matches for us. We have to back the players who're with us."

Mathews also said the decision to drop Dimuth Karunaratne and promote Jayawardene to the opening position had, in part, been an attempt to give Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal the opportunity to build into their innings. Thirimanne batted at No. 4 and Chandimal at No. 6.

"We thought to open with Mahela and Dilshan to give the opportunity to Thirimanne and Chandimal, because they've been bating at number six and seven. I think those are not ideal positions for them to bat. They should get more opportunity batting in the middle order. When the senior guys retire, one day, they can hold the team together."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • varuna on November 20, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    Once Mahela,Sanga and Dilshan left who will be capable of leading the batting for Sri Lanka?Who will be the openers?We need to find players for these positions very fast.Because all these so called talented youngsters including Mathews,Chandimal,Thirimanne and Co. looks like not capable of doing that by failing to establish them selves with no consistency.

  • prasad on November 18, 2013, 13:45 GMT

    mahela ,sanga and dilshan are my hope..........can't sure any other batsman s..

  • Freeza on November 18, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster, and they had the perfect opportunity in the series against New Zealand to do so. We were fielding a B team, those 3 should have been rested and allowed the youngsters to bat at the top. To be fair to some of SL younger batsman they never do get a real chance because they are always coming in later on when the 3 old guys have gotten out. Unless all 3 of them play until their 40s I see some pretty dark days ahead for SL cricket.

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    It's the lack of Test Matches I think. Test matches gives confidence and we don't have enough of test matches. Thirimanna and Chandimal are Test players. They can gradually become ODI players. We send our players to IPL when we can play a decent test and ODI series without rain interference. They we have matches on rainy days. The whole administration body is useless. Have a backbone and take decisions considering future Sri Lankan Cricket.

  • Janaka on November 17, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    I don't accuse Herath. I accuse Mathews. It's your duty to choose the right person for the right time. Of course, Herath is a class player, but even class players get hammered when situation is wrong. Mathews is supposed to be the best person to deal with the situation, but I think Chandi was much better than him as a captain. It's unfortunate that Chandimal cannot perform well. I think it's better to remove all these low performers out of the squad, and bring an A team or something, to keep it alive. What happened to Akila Dananjaya? What happened to Kushal Silva? What happened to Kithruwan Withanage? If you don't take the right person to the squad, then we will not win, and it will have impact on any captaincy as well. Shuffling must be there for sure. Whoever performing well, must be in the squad. And whoever under perform more than five matches should go to A team, and build his path back to national team. It is not permanent. It has to be quick shuffles.

  • Sam on November 17, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Jaywawardene should always open. I remember when he started opening the innings, his records just started sparkling like fire. Can't understand why SL always messes up with his batting position, sometimes keeps him at 4 & at times opening. He should open permanently. He's the man tp bat through the innings. Also it's needed to be kept in mind that WC 2015 will be played in the tough seaming bouncy conditions of Trans Tasmania (AUS-NZ) where perfect batting application will be needed of what the batting caliber of Jaywardene does possess.

  • Prashan on November 17, 2013, 4:23 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster, you are right! But with an incompetent embattled cricket board which totally depends on BCCI to stand up, things are going tough. Yes Thirimanne and Chandimal have failed non stop lately. But Atapattu too had a woeful start but later was very good. So persistence with Chandimal and Thirimanne could well end up paying off. You forgot to mention Sachithra Senanayake. His bowling average is better than Murali and with him being man of the match, he is no doubt a great find.

    Reality of the cricket world is that today the rich 4 Ind, Eng, Aus and SA are rocking non stop and the remaining 6 are simply struggling. Sad state for cricket as a whole which is a global minority sport.

  • Chatty on November 16, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    It is not easy winning matches and at the same time giving opportunities to the young ones. Ideally, Thirimanna and Chandimal should be coming in at No 3 and 4. But that just cannot happen right now. We can all wish that SL had the same young batting skills that India does with Kohli, etc. But, India is a Billion plus people and SL cannot expect that. However, given the size of the country, SL does brilliantly. So, it's a matter of keeping faith with the team and doing things professionally.

  • Jay on November 16, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    For how long will Sri Lanka rely on these 3 stalwarts - Mahela, Sanga, and Dilly ? Their young players are useless with the exception of Perera and Mathews. No new talent coming through the ranks from what I have seen so far. The bowling also lacks teeth except Malinga, Kulasekera and Herath to certain extent. This is bad coming to think of it. Yes, they will be competitive whenever these players perform but otherwise, the results will be very poor for all to see. Time to groom young players; no short cuts should be taken in that regard. SL need to play a totally young team without these greats and see if they can compete well. More so at home in ODIs to begin with and then they can slowly ease in some of them into the test team. SL, PAK, and WI need to take some tough decisions for the future.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    The problem is when both of them fails, there is no one in the middle order that can build up the innings exception Sangakara. So it makes sense that dilshan bats with some youngster!!

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