Tillakaratne Dilshan is having a fantastic 2009 after reinventing himself as a dashing opening batsman. He has already picked up the Man of the Series award at the World Twenty20, and has made the perfect start to the Champions Trophy. Dilshan is so feared now that bowlers now prefer facing off with his opening partner, Sanath Jayasuriya, one of the most destructive batsmen in history.
Sri Lanka faced up against a confident South African side, one of the favourites for the tournament. The fast-bowling department has been pivotal to South Africa's rise over the past two years, but it was toothless against a belligerent Dilshan.
The first to feel Dilshan's force was Wayne Parnell, whose opening spell suggested he was a tad awed by sharing the new ball with Dale Steyn in the tournament opener.
Parnell, preferred to Makhaya Ntini, struggled to hit a consistent length and went for 39 in five overs. When he dropped fractionally short Dilshan hammered him through midwicket and slashed past backward point; when he tried a slower ball Dilshan scooped him from off stump over Mark Boucher for four. It was a recurring leitmotif in those early overs, Parnell dragging the ball down and Dilshan pinging the deep point and midwicket boundaries.
The first ten overs yielded 70 yet Smith opted for the second Powerplay and introduced Albie Morkel. Dilshan welcomed him with a four, raised his half-century with another thrash, and finished off the 14th over by smashing a free hit for six over midwicket.
He was more restrained after that six, preferring to get his runs mostly in singles. Still, he maintained his strike-rate above 100, and was just starting to break free again after JP Duminy was brought into the attack. He fell soon after bringing up his century, but he had already steered Sri Lanka to a commanding 181 for 3, with more than 20 overs still remaining.