Finding his niche

What a difference a secure place can make! This multi-talented batsman’s skills made it difficult to sort him, which resulted in him being shifted up and down the order and in and out of the side. But once Sangakkara decided to send him to open, Dilshan has been superb.

Dilshan was the standout batsman of the series, with an approach to opening that agreed with modern-day batting. There was a great deal of conviction in his batting, which made the difference.

The opener wasn’t afraid to take the bowling on his terms and was absolutely secure in his approach.

On wickets that were perfect for batting, his approach towards Harbhajan Singh was nevertheless audacious. In the first couple of matches, the off-spinner wasn’t flighting it too much, something Dilshan was aware of. He still used the quickness of his feet to strike the ball straight forcefully.

“Opening has transformed me. It has given me the confidence and security to play my natural game,” said Dilshan.

His every shot — the pull, the cut, the drive and the scoop — reflected his general confidence and ability. His two hundreds in the series were equally spectacular.

Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara went on to heap praise on Dilshan.

“Dilshan’s been the biggest positive for us this series. He’s been the best batsman in the world in the last year. We hope he keeps continuing this way,” said Sangakkara.

“Dilshan is doing Sanath’s job. He’s been in great form, giving the innings a great push with his batting,” said Jayawardene.

Well worth an extended run

Upul Tharanga was the perfect partner to Dilshan. He was steady when his partner was on the rampage, and attacking when the situation demanded it.

Tharanga had the full backing of his team before he was sent in as an opener, but there was still the question of a permanent spot for him. His performance in this series will ensure him an extended stay.

The left-hander’s most impressive knock came in the Kolkata game. He had outstayed Dilshan and needed to score quickly for the team. Ashish Nehra was getting the ball to move, and Tharanga looked slightly uncomfortable, but he was soon on the job with some attacking shots. There was the pull and the cut, the odd edge and the elegant drive, all making up his seventh ODI century, and his first in three years.

Sri Lanka’s top order looks in great form with Tharanga and Dilshan. The side could use the backing of the middle order to add to the advantage of a great start.