NEW DELHI: Batting great Sachin Tendulkar was the only Indian who found a place in former Sri Lanka batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan’s ODI XI. Dilshan put together a team comprising of top cricketers he played with and against through the course of his international career.
Dilshan named former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya and Tendulkar as his opening pair. “He’s one of the greatest openers for Sri Lanka,” Dilshan told ESPNCricinfo about Jayasuriya.
“In 1996, Sri Lanka changed the way batsmen attacked bowlers in the first 15 overs and Sanath was the main guy who brought this to world cricket. His approach changed the 50-over game. I think he was one of the best attacking batsmen in the world.”
Dilshan said that Tendulkar was ‘more stylish’ compared to Jayasuriya. “He knew how to set up the game. He’s one of most experienced guys in the XI and has the most runs to his name in international cricket. I think it’s a good opening combination – one attacking batsman and the other who can be steady, though, of course, Sachin could also attack any time he wanted to. They were the two best openers in the world. And it’s a left-right combination,” said Dilshan.
West Indies great Brian Lara came in at No.3. Dilshan said Lara was in his latter years when he was making his early foray into international cricket and the southpaw still played bowlers with ease.
“It was very hard to bowl to him. He was such a natural in the way he built innings, used the crease. He used his feet against spinners to play a lot of good shots – he would hit over extra cover, he could sweep well, play the cut,” he said.
At No.4 came Dilshan’s long time Sri Lanka teammate Mahela Jayawardene. Describing him as a good leader and a good thinker, Dilshan said, “He scored a lot of runs in pressure situations in big games, like in the 2007 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand – we lost early wickets and he batted with me and got a hundred. He also got a hundred in the 2011 World Cup final. I think he handled pressure really well, not just in batting.”
Dilshan picked former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting as the captain of the team. “He won more World Cups than anyone else, so I choose him as my captain,” said the former right handed batsman.
“He had a very good temperament as captain. As a batsman, he could handle spin very well because of how he used his feet.”
At No.6 came former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis while his former team mate AB de Villiers came at No.7. De Villiers was also named as the wicket-keeper in Dilshan’s XI.
The Sri Lankan then picked a bowling attack consisting of former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, West Indies fast bowling great Courtney Walsh and the legendary spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne.
“During my career, Murali was one of the best spinners I saw. Like Walsh could extract bounce even from a dead track, he could turn the ball and take wickets on a flat wicket, a turning wicket or one that had grass. He could bowl on any track. He was one of the best off-spinners world cricket has seen,” said Dilshan.
Dilshan said he was forced to keep Australia’s Glenn McGrath as 12th man because of Wasim and Walsh. According to Dilshan, Wasim got his pick because of his ability to swing the ball while Walsh could extract more bounce than McGrath and he ‘would complement Akram and Kallis with his pace’.