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Saturday, 7 May 2011






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Dilshan wants team to be aggressive

Tilakarathne Dilshan the new captain of the Sri Lankan has done a total make over.Dilshan whom we associate with his innovative stroke play,with his blond streaks, a funky stud in the ear and a goatee which takes hours to trim with a unique style has appeared to change his outlook totally but has not changed a bit in his attacking,aggressive and at times cheeky brand of cricket.

I met up with him at his elegant house in Kotte and tried hitting him with bouncers,yorkers and even doosra type of questions but he hit me back even harder with vicious cuts, pulls and even dil scoops.

Tilakarathne Dilshan the new captain of Sri Lanka Cricket . pictures by saliya rupesighe

Such is the man,so confident,full of self belief and the will to succeed and he promises to bring in ruthlessness and aggressiveness to the team.

He expressed his views on the tough English tour,the new squad and his aggressive view on captaincy.Here are some excerpts from the interview.

Q: Faith in the young squad

A: Without Murali , Malinga or even Kulasekara in our bowling line up , who do you think will have to be the spearhead of the bowling attack in England especially since Dilhara hasn't really played much cricket in the recent past and is inconsistent? Well our best bowlers Murali, Vaas and Malinga have retired from test cricket and I don't have the luxury of having them.

I have been given a new squad with a young ,talented but an inexperienced pace bowling attack Dilhara and Welagedara will lead the pace attack and all our pacies especially Nuwan Pradeep generates a lot of pace.

Q: Four debutants are there in the squad and the conditions would be quite difficult for them and most of our senior players are still engaged in the IPL still. Isnt it going to be huge challenge for you considering leading a young team?

A: It is going to be tough and this time around in England especially the early part of the summer are very testing conditions for any player no matter how good you are The youngsters will have to adjust, but on the other hand even experienced players will find it difficult to play in England with the ball swinging around a lot. It is going to be a huge challenge for me but I have faith in my squad. The conditions are going to tough and there is a new coach and I am a new captain as well so I am eagerly awaiting for the challenging tour.It is a rebuilding phase and young blood needs to be infused to the team since we are aiming at the 2015 world cup.

Q: You are flying to England without our core senior players, don't you think that it is a disadvantage of not having them for the first practice game and is that why you are flying to England on the 11?

A: Sanga and Mahela are our most experienced players and they have played in England earlier but will miss the first practice game due to IPL commitments. I talked with my owners and they agreed on releasing me on the 11th of May and I will join the squad and play along side the youngsters in the squad. There is a slight disadvantage of not having Mahela and Sanga for the first practice game but they are class players and usually we give our youngsters an opportunity in a first practice game so they have to grab it with both hands. So I think this is a blessing in disguise as all the youngsters in the squad would have a go in the first practice game. (laughing) Full squad for second practice game

Q: Maharoof and Kaushal Silva will join the squad for the first practice game. Do you see any plus point in them playing since they aren't part of the squad?

A: Maharoof and Kaushal are in good form and this might be an window of opportunity for a guy like Kaushal to get in to the team and also Maharoof to make a comeback.Hopefully there will be healthy competition among places in the squad with everyone performing.

Q: Nuwan Pradeep and Dilhara Fernando haven't played a single match in the IPL. Cant the SLC get them for the first practice game since Dilhara is our most experienced bowler?

A: Nuwan Pradeep will return to Sri Lanka on the 6th of May and we are looking at the possibility of having Dilhara for both practice games if he wont take part in the rest of the IPL games.All these players are professionals so they have to adjust to different conditions quickly without giving out excuses. Even though Nuwan Pradeep and Dilhara haven't played any matches they practice a lot under world class coaches and they do a lot of fitness training and gym routines.

Q: Even Thisara Perera has not played many games and it his going to be his debut. Have you tried to work out something for him to be in England early to get accustomed for the conditions?

A: Thisara played in a few matches for Kochi and we are looking at a possibility of flying him down from India if he wont take part in rest of the matches of the IPL. He is our all rounder of the side and his bowling style would suit the English conditions.

Q: Suraj Randiv will lead the spin attack but he is also engaged in the IPL still. Have you'll provided him with a specific training schedule?

A: Randiv has been bowling very well in the IPL although hasn't taken many wickets. He is in great form and was the highest wicket taker in the Premier League. We have sent him a Duke ball to practice so that he gets used to it.To win many games as possible.

Q: Who do you think is good to take your place in the future?

A: Well it is difficult to name one person but we have a lot of good,talented young players. Our A side and our Under 19 players are very skillful and some one will grab my place once I retire.

Q: What are your short term goals for the English tour and the next few series coming up?

A: I have a brand new team, coaching staff so I want to get the best of the senior players and also give opportunities for youngsters as well. I don't want to plan too far ahead, I just want to concentrate on one tour at a time and win it.

Q: What do you feel about players who are seemingly putting IPL before country?

A: For me it is always the country before anything. So I would definitely put forward my country and play since the pride, the glory and honor cannot be bought for money.

Instill aggressiveness and competitive attitude in the team.

Q: You are an attacking player by nature. What would you do to instill that aggressiveness especially in our fast bowlers? Would we see more mind games with the opposition?

A: Well I am looking at changing a few things in the future. I want our players to have that competitive attitude and lets see in the future. (laughing)

Q: Are you going to be aggressive as captain when it comes to on field tactics as in the past we see that we go on the defensive in fielding and bowling changes?

A: Well, I am a positive character so I always try to do positive things, be aggressive and win games. I might do some changes when compared to Sanga and Mahela because all of us think differently. I go to every match thinking that I want to win it so there might be a few changes on the field.

Q: You captained a T 20 match against India and was seen bashing the players. You have matured over the years, how would you look back on that and how would you react when things go wrong in the future?

A: Well there was a huge ha hoo about it. Any player can get angry but when I look back now I feel that I can control my anger and get the best out of the players. I give 100% on the field so I expect everyone to do so.I have matured a lot and I look forward to marshal my players in a effective way.

Q: Are you going to bat differently now that you have more responsibility or stick to your attacking play?

A: No,I have been very successful in opening and continue to attack from the start. So I don't want to change my way of playing and will continue to be aggressive.

Q: Do you think that in the future we can give opportunities guys like Chandimal to bat at number 3?

A: Well, we are looking at a possibility of Chandimal batting at the top in ODIs. We would be discussing with our senior players, the coach and also Marvan Atapattu who is our new batting coach about this and come to a conclusion. Chandimal is a superb batsman and probably our best young batsman so he should be given opportunity to cement his place in the side.


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