Sir Garfield Sobers is not a person to be easily overlooked. Yet, when the greatest allrounder called on the Sri Lankans, as they trained before the second semi-final of the World Twenty20 at the Oval, Tillakaratne Dilshan had no idea who he was exchanging pleasantries with. “I just said hello,” Dilshan says with an embarrassed smile. Sanath Jayasuriya, standing next to Dilshan, realised his younger team-mate didn’t know who the visitor was. “He was shocked,” Dilshan chuckles.
“I never seriously followed cricket when I was young,” he says. The first live cricket match he watched was on TV – the last 10 overs of Sri Lanka’s momentuous 1996 World Cup triumph over Australia. Dilshan was at a family wedding when people in one corner perked up as they watched Aravinda de Silva tear the Aussies to shreds. Something stirred inside Dilshan.