Dilshan will be the man to watch in the Champions Trophy
Tillakaratne Dilshan may not be a batting superstar in Sri Lanka’s
team like Sanath Jayasuriya or Kumar Sangakkara, but is one of most
valuable players in all forms of the game.
Sri Lanka’s search for an explosive opening partner for Jayasuriya
ended with the successful run of Dilshan, a middle-order batsman
performing the new role remarkably well in Test, one-day and Twenty20
cricket this year.
Dilshan will be the man to watch out for in the Champions Trophy in
South Africa next week as he is familiar with the conditions after
excelling as an opener in the Indian Premier League just a few months
The Sri Lankan is a free-stroking batsman who has been credited with
perfecting a rare shot which goes over the wicket-keeper’s head and
makes field-setting a difficult proposition.
Dilshan carried his IPL form into the Twenty20 World Cup in England
this year, playing a vital role in his team’s run to the final.
Doubts that he may not be as successful with his attacking flair in
Tests were buried as Dilshan gave a good account of himself at home
against New Zealand, scoring 92 and 123 in the opening Test at Galle.
He has been nominated for the International Cricket Council award for
the Twenty20 International Performance of the Year.
Dilshan will vie for attention with other exciting stroke-makers,
Graeme Smith of South Africa, India’s Yuvraj Singh, Australian Michael
Clarke and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi.
Smith is one of most respected and feared openers in contemporary
cricket, having the skill to adapt to all conditions and the shots to
tame any attack with his attractive stroke-making.
The left-hander’s form will be crucial as South Africa have talented
middle-order batsmen in Jacques Kallis, Jean-Paul Duminy, AB de Villiers
and Mark Boucher to capitalise on a solid start.
Smith, with 5,251 runs in one-dayers, is also expected to excel as
captain as South Africa make an attempt to win a major title at home
after failing in the 2003 World Cup and then 2007 Twenty20 World
He has already led his team to away and home one-day series victories
over four-time World Cup champions Australia in a year.
Yuvraj’s fame as a power-hitter got a tremendous boost in South
Africa in 2007 when he smashed England paceman Stuart Broad for six
sixes in an over.
Yuvraj has played a vital role in India’s amazing run of five
successive one-day series wins against England, New Zealand, the West
Indies and twice against Sri Lanka.
He has also earned a reputation of breaking patnerships with his tidy
left-arm spin. His agile fielding makes him one of the best all-rounders
in one-day cricket.
Clarke is not a traditional big-hitter, but is second to none when it
comes to building an innings under pressure.
He made his one-day debut in 2003, but donned the mantle of a senior
player a few years later following retirements of Matthew Hayden, Justin
Langer, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist.
He was his team’s man in form in the Ashes, scoring 448 runs in five
Australia expect Clarke to deliver yet again because he is among a
few experienced players in the side trying to defend the title. His and
skipper Ricky Ponting’s form will be the key to Australia’s fortunes.
Afridi lacks Clarke’s consistency, but can make a huge impact on a
match in a short time with his big-hitting. He still has the fastest
one-day century to his credit off 37 balls against Sri Lanka in Nairobi
He is unpredictable but when he fires, his team can be assured of
gaining a big advantage.
Afridi, who also bowls fastish leg-breaks and is a brilliant fielder,
was an outstanding performer in the Twenty20 World Cup in England this
year as he hammered a half-century to help his side win the final. NEW
DELHI, Sept 18, 2009 AFP