Less than two months short of his 40th birthday, Tillakaratne Dilshan will make his last appearance in ODIs for Sri Lanka on Sunday. Dilshan finishes his career as one of only 11 batsmen with 10,000 ODI runs. His career spanned nearly 17 years and he is one of only two players - the other being Pakistan's Shoaib Malik - to have played in ODIs this year having made his debut in this format before the turn of the century.
Sri Lanka are looking for established openers in time for the next World Cup and Dilshan, being no spring chicken, obviously doesn't figure in their plans, but his batting form over the last few years does suggest he may have had a few miles left in him yet.
The year 2015 was a particularly productive one for Dilshan: he made 1207 runs - the most he has made in a calendar year - at an average of 52.47 and a strike rate of 90.75. No other Sri Lanka batsman has managed more runs in ODIs in a calendar year when averaging more than 50 and striking at a rate of at least 90 per 100 balls. And 2015 was no flash in the pan for Dilshan: he aggregated 1000-plus ODI runs in 2012 and 2013 as well, and fell short of that mark by only ten runs in 2014. Dilshan is one of only five batsmen have made 1000-plus runs in a calendar year after the age of 35, and he is the only one to have done so thrice. Kumar Sangakkara is the only other batsman to have managed this in more than one year.
Between December 2014 and March 2015 Dilshan had a run of 15 innings in which he made 996 runs at an average of 71.14. He hit five hundreds and three fifties in those innings against five different opponents. No other Sri Lanka batsman - barring the inimitable Kumar Sangakkara, who himself had an even more productive streak that overlapped Dilshan's - has had a more prolific run.
Advancing age was hardly ever a debilitating factor in Dilshan's career. It took about nine years for him to cement his place in the ODI side as an opener, by which time he was already 32. From the start of 2009 - when he started to open regularly in ODIs - to the end of the 2011 World Cup, Dilshan made 2462 runs at an average of 53.52. He notched up nine hundreds and eight fifties in 50 innings in that period before a brief slump in the latter half of 2011 saw him score only 279 in 16 innings at an average of 17.43. Well into his 36th year, Dilshan hit his straps again during the tri-series in Australia when he top-scored in the series with 513 runs at an average of 51.3. Since turning 35, Dilshan has made 4632 runs at 45.86; in 112* innings he has made 12 hundreds and 24 fifties - a fifty-plus score every third innings. Before 35, he had averaged ten runs fewer and had hit a fifty-plus score every six innings.
In fact, Dilshan's last 100 ODI innings have fetched him 4264 runs at an average of 47.91. He has made 34 fifty-plus scores (one in every three innings) including 12 centuries in those innings. Only Sangakkara and Sachin Tendulkar managed more runs than him in their last 100 ODI innings and only three others - Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Matthew Hayden and Shane Watson - managed to score 4000 runs. However, among the six, Dilshan is the only batsman to have played all of his last 100 innings after the age of 35 - an age by which a cricketer's reflexes and fitness are sternly tested by the rigours of the modern one-day game.
Sri Lanka's decision to look for a younger opener to take Dilshan's place ahead of the next World Cup may be a sound one, but his replacement will have some big shoes to fill: the batsman he will replace is the only one from Sri Lanka to top the run charts in any World Cup.
Tillakaratne Dilshan's career highlights
11 Number of batsmen who have made 10,000-plus runs in ODIs. Dilshan has made 10,248 runs including 22 hundreds and 47 fifties. Only seven batsmen have hit more hundreds in ODIs.
1 Number of captains to have hit hundreds in all three formats of the game. Dilshan achieved this distinction when he made an unbeaten 104* against Australia in a T20I in Pallekele in 2011. He had made 193 at Lord's in only his second Test as captain and a hundred against Zimbabwe in 2010 in the finals of a ODI tri-series. Dilshan is also one of only 11 batsmen to hit a hundred in each of the three international formats in cricket.
1 Number of Sri Lanka batsmen to finish as the highest run-scorer at any World Cup. Dilshan was the one in the 2011 edition when he made 500 runs at 62.50, hitting two hundreds and two fifties including a century in the quarter-final against England and a fifty in the semi-final against New Zealand. Dilshan was a key batsman in Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign in 2015 as well, scoring 395 runs at an average of 65.83 including two hundreds and one fifty in seven innings. Overall, Dilshan made 1112 runs in the World Cups at 52.95 including four hundreds and four fifties from 25 innings.
65.83 Dilshan's batting average as an opener in the World Cup - the second best for any opener with a minimum of 500 runs. Only Glenn Turner who made 519 runs at an average of 64.87 did better than Dilshan as an opener in the tournament. Dilshan's four hundreds while opening in the World Cup are also the joint second-highest along with Mark Waugh's. Only Sachin Tendulkar hit more centuries in the tournament as an opener.
5 Number of players who have achieved the double of 10,000 runs and 100 wickets in ODIs. In addition to his 10,248 runs, Dilshan has taken 106 wickets, bowling his offspin. Sanath Jayasuriya is the other Sri Lanka player among the five.
25 Man-of-the-match awards won by Dilshan in ODIs. Sanath Jayasuriya (48), Kumar Sangakkara (31) and Aravinda de Silva (30) are the only Sri Lanka players to have won more. Click here for a list of players with most Man-of-the-match awards in ODIs.
329* Matches played by Dilshan in his ODI career. Only 11 players have had a longer career in terms of number of matches played. At 16 years and 258 days it is also one of the longest in terms of time span.
* Numbers till Tillakaratne Dilshan's penultimate ODI