Tillakaratne Dilshan retires from ODI cricket after the third ODI against Australia © Getty Images
Tillakaratne Dilshan retires from ODI cricket after the third ODI against Australia © Getty Images

The golden period of Sri Lanka saw many players grow to become legends. Starting from Sanath Jayasuriya to Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka has produced many big names who have lifted the standard of cricket in the Island Nation to a different level altogether. When three of Sri Lanka’s all-time greats, Muralitharan, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene retired within a short span, the team fell short of experience. However, there was one name who stayed through the changes that Angelo Mathews and his Sri Lanka went through, that name is Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Dilshan. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs Sri Lanka 3rd ODI at Dambulla

Dilshan has been a dependable all-rounder for his team for over a decade. The player, though has been tried in several positions, looks more comfortable in the middle-order and has also been effective with his part-time off-spinners. Making his debut in 1999, Dilshan has represented Sri Lanka in 330 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), scored 10,300 runs and picked up 106 wickets. As the inventor of ‘Dil-scoop’ retires from the ODI format, here are 10 of his best knocks that define his class.

81 Not out against India, 2005: Sri Lanka were in India for a seven-match ODI series. India had already taken an unassailable 4-0 lead n the series. Dilshan had earlier produced decent performances in the format but was yet to serve as the hero of his team’s victory. India batted first at Motera and a 4-for from Farveez Maharoof helped Sri Lanka restrict Indian batsmen go past 300 but a century each from Gautam Gambhir and skipper Rahul Dravid took the target to 286. The top five batsmen in the Sri Lankan line-up scored over 40. It was not until Dilshan, who scored an unbeaten 81 to hand his side a face-saving victory. This was the only victory from Sri Lanka in the series.

117 not out against Netherlands, 2006: No matter how many centuries a batsman has in scores in his career, the first one is always special. As Sri Lanka faced Netherlands in 2006, Jayasuriya played a knock of 157 off 104. However, the day was even more special for Dilshan, who scored his first ODI century. The pair of centuries took Sri Lanka to a massive total of 443, which Netherlands failed to chase and Sri Lanka won by 195 runs.

70 against England, 2007: It was a neck-to-neck fight with England for Sri Lanka at home. Sri Lanka and England headed to the third ODI having squared the series 1-1 and the third ODI was to decide the lead. Winning the toss, the hosts chose to bat at Rangiri. The pressure of the series acted upon them and the team started losing wickets regularly. Sri Lanka had already played for 14 overs, lost 4 wickets and had only 42 runs on board as Dilshan walked out to bat. While rest of his teammates failed to reach 20, Dilshan stayed at the crease to score 70 and Sri Lanka had had set England a target of 164. Sri Lanka however went on to lose the match.

56 against India, 2007: More than once, Dilshan has been Sri Lanka’s hero and with his solo performance has taken his team to victory. During Sri Lanka’s visit to India in 2007, while Kumar Sangakkara stood alone with his century amidst all the batsmen failing to perform, it was Dilshan who scored a crucial 56 batting at No. 6. Dilshan kept calm unlike his regular aggressive approach and took Sri Lanka’s total 257 at Rajkot. India failed to get to the par score and Sri Lanka gained lead in the series.

137 not out against Pakistan, 2009: Having played for almost a decade, Dilshan had become an essential part of the team and was on top of his form during the 2008-2009. Looking at the flow of runs from his bat, the batsman was promoted to open along with Jayasuriya. During Sri Lanka’s visit to Pakistan, Sri Lanka secured a remarkable victory over the hosts. Dilshan carried his bat throughout the innings scoring an unbeaten 137 and Sri Lanka posted a massive 309 in the third ODI. The match was a perfect example of all-round play as Pakistan were bundled for 75, with four batsmen getting out for ducks, only two hitting double digit scores and none scoring more than 30. Sri Lanka won by a margin of 234 runs.

160 against India, 2009: This was one of the most competitive ODIs between India and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka were in India for five ODIs and the series opener was scheduled to be played at Rajkot. The Indian crowd could not have asked for more as Virender Sehwag scored 146 off 106, an innings studded with 17 fours and 6 sixes. The effort was backed up by Sachin Tendulkar’s 69 and MS Dhoni’s 72 and India put up a massive 414. But there was more to come. While India thought 400-plus was a match-winning score, Dilshan proved them wrong, emulating Sehwag to score 160 with the help of 20 fours and 3 sixes. Sadly,  Upul Tharanga’s 67 and Sangakkara’s 90 could not save them from a 3-run defeat. The innings defines Dilshan’s capability to hold his nerve and perform irrespective of the situation.

108 not out against England, 2011: The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 was a bitter-sweet experience for Sri Lanka. The team advanced to the final but failed to lift the trophy again. However, the team played exceptionally well throughout the tournament. One of the best performances came in the quarter-final against England. Playing at Colombo, England posted a target of 230 courtesy of 86 from Jonathan Trott and 50 from Eoin Morgan. Sri Lanka, chasing the target, did a flawless job as they did not lose a single wicket. Dilshan remained unbeaten at 108 while Upul Tharanga remained unbeaten at 102. Dilshan was given the Man of the Match award for his all-round show.

106 against Australia, 2012: It was the tri-nation Commonweath Bank series of 2012 and Sri Lanka had qualified ahead of India to play three finals against Australia. The first final had gone in Australia’s favour and it was a crucial match for Sri Lanka to keep their hopes to win the title alive. Batting first at Adelaide, Australia had put up 272 with the help of centuries from David Warner and Michael Clarke. Dilshan, opening with Jayasuriya, turned the hero for his side as he scored 106 to guide his team to a much-needed victory.

161 not out against Bangladesh, 2015: Dilshan scored his career’s highest score during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 against Bangladesh. Lahiru Thirimanne provided the perfect start with his 51, while Dilshan remained unbeaten at 161, along with Sangakkara (105), which helped Sri Lanka register a total of 332. Bangladesh scored 240, handing Sri Lanka a 95-run victory.

144 and 4-for 4 against Zimbabwe, 2011: Undoubtedly, Dilshan’s best match as an all-rounder came against Zimbabwe in ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Opening the innings with Tharanga, Dilshan scored 144 while Tharanga scored 133. Though Sri Lanka failed to follow the performance up, they had 327 runs on board. But Dilshan did not stop there, as he picked up 4 wickets giving away only 4 runs and was awarded the Man of the Match.

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)