‘It’s easier for me to bat with Mahela’, admits Tillakaratne Dilshan

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“I have no particular liking for an opening partner but to be honest, it’s easier batting with Mahela”

Sri Lanka opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan has admitted that “it’s easier for me to bat with Mahela because he’s a very experienced cricketer”.

Dilshan’s comments come after he and Jayawardene put together a 91-run partnership in the third ODI against New Zealand in Dambulla, which Sri Lanka ended up winning by 36 runs due to heavy rain and bad light. 

“It’s easier for me to bat with Mahela because he’s a very experienced cricketer and sometimes he guides me as well,” Dilshan said. “It’s not the same when batting with a youngster. Even today, I got struck but Mahela came and hit couple of boundaries to put the pressure on bowlers.

“I have no particular liking for an opening partner but to be honest, it’s easier batting with Mahela.”

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was pleased that Sri Lanka had bowled more than 20 overs to New Zealand before bad light interrupted play since they would have lost the series 1-0 if they hadn’t. 

“Thankfully, we got the 20 overs done,” he said. “If we didn’t get the 20 overs, that would have been another disappointment as we would have lost the series. That’s why I bowled the three spinners and they responded brilliantly.”

Mathews also decided to keep veteran spinner Rangana Herath in the team, despite him conceding 25 runs off the final over of the second ODI, which New Zealand won off a last ball six by Nathan McCullum. 

“Every captain should have confidence in his team,” Mathews said. “You cannot brand a bowler good or bad for his performance in just one match.

“Conditions had a lot of say in the second match, but players like Rangana Herath, Sachithra [Senanayake] and Dilshan have won many matches for us. We have to back the players who’re with us.”

The Sri Lankan captain added that he had decided to drop opener Dimuth Karunaratne for the third ODI since he wanted to give Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne a chance to bat higher up the order. 

“We thought to open with Mahela and Dilshan to give the opportunity to Thirimanne and Chandimal, because they’ve been bating at number six and seven,” Mathews said. “I think those are not ideal positions for them to bat. They should get more opportunity batting in the middle order. When the senior guys retire, one day, they can hold the team together.”

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