Sri Lanka v South Africa, 3rd T20, Hambantota August 7, 2013

Dilshan keeps faith in young batsmen


Sri Lanka's misfiring middle order has been the cause of most concern in the 2-1 Twenty20 series loss to South Africa, but Tuesday's Man of the match Tillakaratne Dilshan has said the youngsters' failures do not necessarily bode ill for the team's future.

Dilshan's 74 not out from 51, was Sri Lanka's primary propellant in a chase of 164, in which three young players - Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews - failed to make significant contributions again. Kumar Sangakkara had held the chases together in the first two games, but found inadequate support from a frail string of batsmen in the middle order.

Sri Lanka had rested one senior batsman for each of the matches in the series, in an attempt to allow the young players to bat in more familiar positions, but of the four batsmen in their mid-twenties, only Thisara Perera played an innings of note. Thisara, incidentally, had only been granted an extended run in the team during the latter half of Dilshan's year as captain.

"They might not have been successful here, but they have got some important experience from these matches and that will be valuable for their future," Dilshan said of the youngsters. "When I was captain, I brought in young players as well. They didn't start firing straight away, but they are winning matches now.

"We knew before the series that each of us senior batsmen would be sitting out a game. That was a decision taken by the management. The three of us can't play forever. In two or three years we'll be gone. These things will pay off for Sri Lanka in the future."

Dilshan said he also sympathised with the young players, who have proven themselves in domestic cricket, but have not yet fully found their feet in internationals. Dilshan himself had had an average international record for the first half of his career, and it was not until he moved permanently to the position of opener in 2009 that his talent began to be fully realised.

"In our country we don't often see players who come in and immediately start playing well at the international level. You really only see that in places like South Africa, Australia and England. If we had better domestic tournaments, the new players would not feel much of a difference when they get to the international team, but in the current situation there is a big step up. We need to fix that. In other countries that have high-quality replacements, the players below them push the top team really hard as well. But that said, it's time that our youngsters started making use of the opportunities that they have been given."

Sri Lanka have struggled to find an adequate long-term opening partner for Dilshan in the past four years, but when he is paired with Mahela Jayawardene, they have formed a dynamic combination. They adopted a hyper-aggressive approach again on Tuesday evening, and their opening stand of 67 from 5.5 overs set Sri Lanka on course for the victory.

"The start was important, especially when you're chasing 164, it's not easy," Dilshan said. "It's not that South Africa bowled badly. Myself and Mahela know that when we get going, we can put pressure on any attack. We put pressure on their main bowlers and their plans. We know that if someone has to bowl three overs in the first six, they can't bowl in the death. In four overs we took 47 runs, and it worked out for us.

"It's a lot easier for us and a lot harder for them when there is that kind of pressure from both ends. Mahela was hitting the loose balls away really well. We talked to each other before we went out. We knew we would have to take some risks in the Powerplay when chasing a score like this."

Dilshan reined in the big shots during the middle overs, as South Africa made regular breakthroughs. Having needed less than seven an over to win with nine wickets in hand, after the Powerplay, Sri Lanka's slight stagnation put South Africa in the hunt again, but Dilshan said he was never concerned about the game slipping away.

"I wasn't worried during the middle overs, simply because of the quality of the start that we had. They only have one spinner, and I knew the quicks had to come in after that. I knew I could hit the fast bowlers on this pitch - especially with the wind. I didn't go for unnecessary shots in the middle overs. I just took the singles and brought the target a little closer to take the pressure off our younger guys. It was a good team chase in the end."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 10, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    Dilshan you really rockzx yara I don't know why he was thrown out of team in 1st two T20s ??? But any ways Dilshan and faf played really awesome <3 Saeed cricky <3

  • Micheal on August 9, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    i think for the T20 we have so manny hard hitters we need to give them proper chance. not send at 6 or 7 down and ske them to win you the match but rather come in to order and bring momentum. i think momentum is key in T 20 from the start. i do not think thirimanna or chandimal is suited to T20 format since they take time to sorth them sleves. so immediatly the pressure is right back on dilshan or mahela. we need to have people who can atleast get 1 each delivery not take 2 overs to start sorting out. We lost so manny talents down the line since of politics and issues. players like jeewntha Kulathunga, waruna waragoda, sajith fernando, pradeep hewage. we should not do the same now give new guns the opportunity in T20 and see. kithruwan withanage, angelo,akila danajaya , nirosha dikwella ( hiegst runscorer) not even in squad, shehan jayasuriya, priyanjana, get them playing not just have them in squad and leave them.

  • Dummy4 on August 8, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    Chandimal, Tirimanne, Kusal Perera must focus on improving their batting techniques and play in line with the ball and not swat at every ball they get to face. Mathews,Thisara Perera & Kulasekera should cement their places improving their skills as allrounders with Mathews captaining the team in all formats. Mahela,Sanga & Dilshan took around 10 years of their international careers to reach their peak. We cannot expect these youngsters to perform miracles as they are in International cricket for only around 3 years. I strongly believe that selectors without tinkering too much with the present combination of players should give them the maximum exposure playing alongside Mahela, Dilshan, Herath & Sanga to sharpen their skills and gain valuable experience at International level. Sri Lanka's objective will be to reach their peak as a team in time for the next world cup unlike some international teams who have already peaked much earlier and will only decline in the next year or so.

  • Dummy4 on August 8, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    i agree that chandimal`s batting talent is decreasing ! when he came to the scene he was amazing..he was like a junior bradman..But now he doesn`t play 10% of the shots he used to play..Still remember his inns against India in Harare where he smashed 5 sixes..Then He batted amazingly in 2010 T20 provincial league .Ive never seen a Sri Lankan batting like that..then in VB series..He is still a class act but Marvan should be sacked..I think Marvan is trying to make everyone bat like he used to bat,..Thats why Kusal and Chandi can`t play their natural game

  • Dummy4 on August 8, 2013, 2:09 GMT

    Marvan is not fit to be the batting coach. Not all gud cricketers are gud batting coaches..

  • Senal on August 8, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    If sri lanka wants to do well in t20's have to get rid of Thirimanne and chandimal for sure as their strike rates are way below than 100 even. Either you like it or not you need to have power hitters like Kapugedera , Lokuheetige and who ever represents Sri Lanka in Hong Kong sixes. We have sangakkara to keep one end and there is no place for a same type of person for t20's. We gotta look for a different team for t20s like Australia and go forward from there.

  • Gayan on August 7, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Dont know Attapattu's influence on youngsters batting performance. First have to say Attapattu was my favorite batsman when he playing. Regarding youngsters,

    Chandimal decreasing with his batting talent.When he came into the scene he was attacking and effective batsman. But current Chandimal doesn't looks half the talanted as he first came. May be he is not cemented with solid position in batting order and he not able to adjust his style quickly to different batting positions. May be batting couching issue

    Thirimanne really improving since he arrive. He is next No 3

    Kusal'sproblem is hes not reading the situation and not value his wicket. Of course he just play Total of about 20 matches in both ODI and T20. He need experience and good mentoring. He can be a real match winner for SL like Kholi for India

    Dont have issue with Mathews. I think hes matured now. he will guild SL in future

  • Dummy4 on August 7, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Most teams win games with 11 players. Sri Lanka wins matches with 6. Three Proper batsmen and Three proper ballers. !

  • Dummy4 on August 7, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Somebody said Thirimanne is next Hashan Thilakaratne. Well it Could be. But we need to know Hashan will never ever have a Future in modern day criceket (who Can score only about 2/3 runs max a over with limited shots and no alrounder) where only Super Bowlers/Super Batsmen and alrounders will remain and if you are Batsmen should have ability to score 4/5 Runs even in Tests. Those days Day Score for a Test was around 150-200 now it has gone upto 250-300. See the difference.

  • Nilanka on August 7, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    Except for Thisara Perera the performance of all the other younger players is very disappointing in this series. SL would have lost all the games if it wasn't for the senior players.

  • No featured comments at the moment.