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Dhananjaya de Silva on batting long: 'This is what I'm meant to do for the team'

He trusted his lower-order team-mates to play big shots if he took the game deep

Bat long and take the game deep. These were the things Dhananjaya de Silva was telling himself during his match-winning 40 not out off 34 balls on Wednesday when he helped deliver Sri Lanka's first T20I victory in six matches.
Not known for his hitting capability, the match situation was perhaps made for de Silva, who struck only two boundaries - a six and a four - and focused instead on running singles and twos. With a severely depleted India making only 132, Sri Lanka did not require huge fireworks with the bat to chase it down.
"This is what I'm meant to do for the team," de Silva said after the match. "In the previous match as well, what I'd been told was to bat 20 overs from one side. I wasn't able to do that in the previous game. Today was my day and I did that. If I can bat at a run-a-ball until the final overs, letting others attack around me, I can raise my strike rate towards the finish as well. That was the coach, captain and selectors' plan."
de Silva said the surface for this match was the slowest of the tour. It took a significant turn right through the game, with spinners picking up seven of the 11 wickets to fall. Only three sixes were struck in the entire match.
"We knew it was a slow pitch, so our target while bowling was to restrict them to 125 or 130," he said. "Our bowlers did well and we were able to manage that. When it came to our innings, we knew that it would be tough to bat as well, but if we dragged the game out to the 20th over, the equation becomes simple and we know what we have to do. I think even a T20 match, that's the way to do it."
Despite de Silva's innings, Sri Lanka's chase was far from straightforward. They had actually been behind the DLS par score when rain arrived at the end of the 18th over, raising the possibility of the teams going off the field. In the end, the rain ceased quickly and the match continued with only a minor delay, but it required a six from the bat of Chamika Karunaratne in the 19th over to swing the game Sri Lanka's way again. de Silva, though, said he trusted his lower-order team-mates.
"We know that in the last four or five batters we have a few that can hit a six. Chamika, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana and even Dushmantha Chameera can hit a big shot. What I'd wanted to do was to take the game deep, thinking that Wanindu or Chamika would be there with me to finish it off. Thankfully, Chamika was there at the end."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf