‘Spurs mo­ti­vated by UCL chal­lenge’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

TOT­TEN­HAM Hot­spur are mo­ti­vated by the de­sire to prove them­selves against qual­ity teams in the Cham­pi­ons League, man­ager Mauricio Po­chet­tino said.

The Premier League club, who will play their Cham­pi­ons League home games at Wem­b­ley this sea­son, have been drawn against CSKA Moscow, Bayer Lev­erkusen, and Monaco in Group E.

“The Cham­pi­ons League is a big mo­ti­va­tion for ev­ery player and, with re­spect to the Europa League, it is not the same. It is the top TIL­LAKARATNE Dil­shan has con­firmed he will play his fi­nal ODI in Dam­bulla to­mor­row, the third of the series against Aus­tralia, and his last T20 in­ter­na­tional in Colombo on Septem­ber 9.

His re­tire­ment comes in the wake of sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure from Sri Lanka’s se­lec­tors. Dil­shan’s own per­for­mance has been out­stand­ing over the past few years — he av­er­ages 49.18 in ODIs since the start of 2013, and had his most suc­cess­ful ODI year in 2015, when he scored 1 207 runs at an av­er­age of 52.47. But with Angelo Mathews and the se­lec­tors now seek­ing to build a team for the 2019 World Cup, Dil­shan was per­suaded to re­tire. He had also been Sri Lanka’s top scorer in this year’s World T20 cam­paign, and re­mains, at 39, one of the team’s best field­ers.

Dil­shan had missed the Eng­land tour ear­lier this year due to per­sonal rea­sons, and was seen in dis­cus­sion with chief se­lec­tor Sanath Jaya­suriya ahead of the ODI series against Aus­tralia. He is un­der­stood to have ex­pressed a re­luc­tance to re­tire, but hav­ing scored 22 and 10 in the first two matches, has since changed his mind. Sri Lanka com­pe­ti­tion in the world and for that we are very mo­ti­vated to play in it,” Po­chet­tino told Bri­tish me­dia.

“We are very ex­cited be­cause it will be my first op­por­tu­nity to play Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball as a man­ager. This will be very ex­cit­ing for me and for the play­ers too.”

Po­chet­tino played down Erik Lamela show of skill dur­ing the club’s win over Crys­tal Palace last week­end when the Ar­gen­tine striker nut­megged former Spurs winger An­dros Townsend. al­ready have open­ing bats­men vy­ing for his place. Both Kusal Per­era and Danushka Gu­nathi­laka have opened the bat­ting in this series, and Dhanan­jaya de Silva, who has so far bat­ted down the or­der in ODIs, has opened the bat­ting for his club through the most re­cent do­mes­tic sea­son.

Dil­shan was a late bloomer at the top level. Hav­ing bat­ted largely in the lower mid­dle or­der for al­most a decade since his de­but in 1999, he blos­somed as a lim­ite­dovers bats­man when he be­came a con­sis­tent opener in 2009.

Dil­shan scored 1 000 or more ODI runs in a cal­en­dar year four times since be­ing sent per­ma­nently up the or­der, and never failed to amass fewer than 800 runs be­tween 2009 and 2015. He was the fourth Sri Lanka bats­man, after Jaya­suriya, Ku­mar San­gakkara and Ma­hela Jayawar­dene, to cross 10 000 ODI runs.

He has also been one of the premier T20 play­ers over the past six years. Dil­shan top-scored in the 2009 World T20, where Sri Lanka made the fi­nal, be­fore go­ing on to be­come the se­cond-high­est run-scorer over­all in T20 in­ter­na­tion­als — play­ing in

“I un­der­stand Lamela’s game — he is al­ways try­ing things like this in train­ing ses­sions. But for me, it is im­por­tant to show re­spect to the op­po­nent,” Po­chet­tino added.

“I don’t like it when you try to hu­mil­i­ate your op­po­nent. Lamela never tries to hu­mil­i­ate op­po­nents — it’s just the way he plays. But it is noth­ing to cel­e­brate.”

Tot­ten­ham, who started their league cam­paign with four points from their open­ing two games, host Liver­pool to­day. — Reuters two more World T20 fi­nals, one of which his team won. He is one of a hand­ful of bats­men to have hit cen­turies in all three for­mats. The sole T20 hun­dred came in 2011 against Aus­tralia in Pallekele — a favourite venue at which he will ap­pear one more time, in the first T20 of the two-match series.

Once pro­moted to the top of the or­der, Dil­shan be­came re­puted for the dy­namism he brought to the open­ing role. In ad­di­tion to the cover drives and pull shots — all hit with a rapid swing of the bat — Dil­shan was also an in­no­va­tor of the lap scoop, and be­gan to reg­u­larly slog-sweep medium-pace bowlers. He alone plays the shot col­lo­qui­ally known as the ‘Dilscoop’, in which a length ball is uniquely de­flected over the keeper, rather than over short fine leg.

Dil­shan cap­tained Sri Lanka across for­mats be­tween May 2010 and Jan­uary 2012, and though their first Test win un­der him came against South Africa at the tail end of that pe­riod, the team had en­dured a lull dur­ing his lead­er­ship. He has, how­ever, been an ef­fec­tive bowler in the lim­ited-overs for­mat. His off­spin has brought him 106 ODI wick­ets at an av­er­age of 44.84. — Cricinfo

Til­lakaratne Dil­shan raises his bat and hel­met after scor­ing a cen­tury in this file pic­ture

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