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Dickwella hopes to repay Hathurusingha, Samaraweera faith


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Caption: Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella plays a shot and is caught out by South Africa’s Captain Quinton de Kock (not pictured)- REUTERS

 

By Madushka Balasuriya

Niroshan Dickwella has credited the influence of head coach Chandika Hathurusingha and batting coach Thilan Samaraweera for his return to form, and the 25 year-old is hoping to repay their faith with performances at the Asia Cup starting on Saturday in the UAE.

Dickwella was among Sri Lanka’s top three performers with the bat in the recently concluded home series against South Africa, scoring 158 runs at the top of the order at 31.60 – a record bettered only by Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews. And while he was initially omitted from the Asia Cup squad following a string of poor performances - 24 runs in four innings - in last month’s SLC Domestic T20, a subsequent injury to Dinesh Chandimal saw him drafted in as a replacement.

“Both of them are always talking to me, and how I can improve my game in different formats,” Dickwella told Daily FT of the coaching pairs influence, prior to flying out to the UAE. “Now it’s good in ODIs and Tests, but it’s clear I need to have a good game plan and be mentally strong to play T20s.”

Dickwella is acutely aware of his subpar T20 record. With a high score of 68 his only score above fifty, Dickwella’s average stands at 20.75 across 12 T20I innings, not far below his overall T20 career average of 22.21. He last played an international T20 in February of this year.

“I have changed my game plan and technique, and it’s worked in ODIs and Tests, but I think I’m struggling a little bit in T20s,” notes a self-reflective Dickwella. “One of the reasons [for failing in the T20 tournament] is that maybe I was trying to score too quickly. I know I have to plan my game better. I hadn’t played T20s for a while and I was desperate to score some runs.”

Dickwella’s poor T20I record is in stark contrast to an ODI career which has seen him has accumulate a not inconsiderable 1232 runs at an average of 32.42, with six fifties and two hundreds, in 39 innings. Moreover, he ended 2017 as Sri Lanka’s second-highest run-getter behind Upul Tharanga. 

This was despite a lean spell where, following an assured 74-ball 64 against India at home in August 2017, he would score just 243 runs across his next 15 ODIs - a run that would eventually see him dropped for the Nidahas Trophy earlier this year.

Fortunately for Dickwella, this austere period coincided with the hiring of Hathurusingha and Samaraweera, and following constant in-depth conversations with the pair, a rejuvenated Dickwella emerged to star against South Africa. 

These conversations, he reveals, are what helped identify the necessary technical alterations that would see him return to his best.

“My front leg was going across, and I have made that adjustment. I made some small changes in terms of my upper body positioning while in my stance, and it’s helping me a lot now. I’m also playing with a split grip now - I used to play with a split grip but it changed over time.

“It’s important to speak to the coaches and get back to being normal Dickwella.”

Indeed, in Tests and ODIs, Sri Lanka has begun to reap the benefits of “normal Dickwella,” and they’ll be hoping he turns up in the shortest format sooner rather than later.

Sri Lanka begin their Asia Cup campaign on Saturday (15 September) when they face Bangladesh in Dubai.


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