"My kids have already started playing the Dilscoop and they play it better than me."
A playful smile lights his face as Sri Lanka batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan explains the process of one of the most exciting innovations of cricket -- 'The Dilscoop'.
Think of Dilshan and the first thing that comes to mind is the 'Dilscoop'. The audacious shot -- over the head of the batsman, the wicket-keeper and into the fence -- redefined the geometry of the cricket field and became synonymous with Dilshan in the last seven years.
Back in the days, certain cricketing shots became forever linked with their masters; the paddle sweep with Sachin Tendulkar, the reverse sweep with Andy Flower, the wristy flick with Mohammad Azharuddin, the falling hook shot with Rohan Kanhai. Then came the Douglas Marillier scoop which bamboozled everyone, and Kevin Pietersen's switch-hit baffled bowlers, but somehow the 'Dilscoop' enchanted the fans more than any of the above.
In the past, such experiments with the bat were far and few between. The arrival of T20 brought a radical change in cricket in the last decade. Batsmen have become more audacious, inventive and clever. As Sri Lanka veteran Dilshan gears up for his sixth World T20, he brings back memories of 'Dilscoop' which was the most talked about shot in the 2009 edition.
"In 2009, during the second season of the IPL, everyone was playing the paddle sweep but fielding side can put one fielder there (to prevent it). I wanted to play a shot more behind the wicket-keeper’s head," said Dilshan, explaining the origin of 'Dilscoop'. "I tried it against the Deccan Chargers. (Adam) Gilchrist was their captain and was standing up to the stumps. After I played that shot, Gilchrist got upset, threw his gloves and went back. Then it was easier to go down the track. No one had attempted that shot before so I thought why not practice and perfect it?" added Dilshan.
Dilshan didn't try that shot again in the tournament. He wanted to perfect it and the art of perfection helped him do wonders in the 2009 World T20 where he used it on a regular basis and ended up as the tournament's highest run-getter.
"I went back to Sri Lanka and practiced more than one month with the tennis ball, just before the T20 World Cup. I grew a bit more confident," Dilshan said.
"During the World Cup, I played it in the first game against Shane Watson and it went for a six. From thereon, I employed it more often, achieved success and got the man of the tournament award," he smiled.
Dilshan has been very diligent about its use and clarified his thought process that goes into playing such as audacious stroke.
"When the bowler is halfway through his run-up, I decide to go for the shot," Dilshan said
"The 'Dilscoop' gives me more options. If the bowler bowls full I go for the paddle; if it is a little bit short, I play my scoop and that is why I have been successful so far. I've got out only three-four times in the last 5-6 years playing it." he said.
With audacious shots, comes the risk of serious injuries. There was one instance last year where Ireland batsman John Mooney ramped the ball onto his throat trying to play the scoop off Pakistan pace bowler Sohail Khan. Luckily, he didn't suffer any serious injuries.
Asked whether he was scared of playing the shot, Dilshan replied in his typical flamboyant style. "No. I played it against Starc who bowled at 149 kmph and hit him for a six. I’m not scared. That’s the important thing. If you want to play 'Dilscoop', you need to have confidence and eye on the ball," Dilshan said.
The kids have been keenly following father's batting and they have already learnt to play the 'Dilscoop' all by themselves with dad getting the taste of his own medicine as he bowls to them in his free time.
Dilshan is 39 now and into the twilight of his career; he might be the senior-most member of the side but as he heads another World T20, he's given a clear indication that he won't be changing his approach.
"Since 2009, as an opening batsman I try to do the same thing. I am not going to change anything," Dilshan said.
"If I can play the shots like the 'Dilscoop' or the reverse sweep that makes the bowlers think twice, then I’m not going to change anything. I’ve been successful for the last 6-7 years, so I’ll try to do the same thing."
After a long time, Sri Lanka will go into a major tournament as underdogs, they have been struggling of late and they would be banking on Dilshan to deliver the goods. Going by his confidence, the cricketing world might get a scoop of Dilshan's flair with those famed 'Dilscoops' in the World T20.
Below is the video of Dilshan explaining how to play the Dilscoop (via ICC)