Surrounded by richly-forested rolling hills Pallekelle provides a picture-postcard setting for international cricket. Here in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country you should encounter some highlights of England’s tour.
Built for the 2011 World Cup, the Pallekelle stadium debuted as a test venue in December 2010 with the hosts facing the Windies. The 22,000 seater stadium is Sri Lanka’s eighth Test venue and has been lined up to take over as Kandy’s chosen cricketing centerpiece from the ageing Asgiriya stadium. Although unofficially named after spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, the pitch tends to slightly favour batsmen over their bowling counterparts.
What Pallekelle might lack in history it makes up for in brand new facilities. Each match is an opportunity to write a new chapter in cricketing history.
Legends of Sri Lankan cricket – Tillakaratne Dilshan
You know you’re good when you have a move named after you. Wicketkeepers of the world, behold the Dilscoop.
Tillakaratne Dilshan emerged on to the world stage in 1999 and has played his part in many of Sri Lanka’s finest moments. In 2013 he announced his retirement from test cricket but may still grace the ODI and Twenty20 formats. And if he does he will present a formidable challenge to England.
Dilshan’s credentials are legendary. He picked up the man of the series trophy for his batting performances in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 tournament. Then he followed this up with an impressive 500 runs to become the top run gatherer of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Each time the Dilscoop played its part.
To master the Dilscoop, Dilshan perfected his technique of going down on one knee when facing a good length or slightly short of length delivery off a fast or medium paced ball. This enabled him to ‘scoop’ the ball over the hapless wicketkeeper’s head. The perfect end result was an unstoppable boundary. It can be a high-risk strategy but there’s already an imitation – the McScoop – practiced by New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum.
This ingenuity and tenacity made Dilshan the ideal candidate for leadership when Kumar Sangakkara stepped down. He became captain in all three formats of the Sri Lankan game in 2011. Although many felt his game might suffer he still notched up 1,119 runs in 2012.