Sri Lanka needs to carry momentum into the World Cup, says Dilshan

Former Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan believes that the recent Test win over South Africa would lift the morale of the team.

Former South Africa cricketer Herschelle Gibbs and former Sri Lanka cricketer Tillakaratne Dilshan during the launch of IB Cricket Super Over League in Mumbai.   -  AFP

Way back in 2011, South Africa was defeated at home by Sri Lanka under the captaincy of Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Lankans had put up a spirited performance to down the host by 208 runs.

Eight seasons later, it was Kusal Perera, who guided Sri Lanka to one of its biggest Test wins against South Africa.

Last Saturday, Perera’s unbeaten 153 and the 78-run last wicket stand with Vishwa Fernando, scripted a fascinating victory for the islanders.

Interestingly, this too was in Durban!

Dilshan, the captain of the 2011’s winning side, is excited with the way Perera guided the visitor home.

“He (Perera) is playing very good cricket. For the last six months, he has scored runs in every opportunity. In this game also he got half the runs, chasing 304. This is something we need to win games specially in South Africa. It is not easy,” Dilshan told Sportstar.

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In the city to be part of IB Cricket Super Over League - the virtual reality cricket league, which will be aired on Viu from next month - Dilshan believes that such wins would lift the morale of the team.

Dilshan also admits that such a thumping win over a strong opponent could even inspire the Lankan cricketers ahead of the World Cup, which begins from May 30.

“We won the last time under my captaincy in 2011, and now after (eight) years, we won another Test match. When you are winning, it is a good feeling for the team. If they can carry this belief, this positivity and motivation for the next couple of months, then it will be good for us as the World Cup is just three months away,” Dilshan said.

“This is the momentum we want. If we can, it will be the right time. Hopefully, we can turnaround and carry on (this form) for the next couple of months,” the former Lankan captain said.

Having featured in three World Cups for Sri Lanka - in 2007, 2011 and 2015 - Dilshan believes that the team has the ability to turn the tables in the ICC showpiece event.

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“You never know (what Sri Lanka will do). In every World Cup, Sri Lanka team has been dangerous. We come as underdogs in every single World Cup but we finished well in the last four-five World Cups. We lost twice in the final (in 2007 and 2011). We won the 1996 final. In World Cup, our teams are entirely different,” Dilshan said. “The young players are getting a chance to play and that’s a good sign.”

The last few years has seen Sri Lankan cricket muddled in off-field controversies. But with Perera coming up with a fine match-winning innings last week, the side is buoyed with confidence.

And Dilshan hopes the young team can keep the momentum going till the World Cup!