Dilshan was born in Kalutara to a family of a Malay father and a Sinhalese mother. He had his education at Kalutara Vidyalaya, Kalutara, where he started his cricket career as a teenager. Dilshan converted from Islam to Buddhism at the early age of 16, and was known as Tuwan Mohammad Dilshan before his conversion. However, his childhood coach Ranjan Paranavitana said even though Dilshan carried a Muslim name, he and his brothers and sisters followed their mother's religion from their childhood and once his parents separated he officially changed his religion and name.
Dilshan played his test debut against Zimbabwe on 18 Nov 1999 at Bulawayo. He scored 9 runs on debut and was out lbw to a delivery off Henry Olonga. However, Dlishan managed to score his maiden test century at the Harare Sports Club in the second test between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. He scored an unbeaten 163* runs in the first innings and was awarded the player of the match award for his role in the Sri Lankan victory. Dilshan retired from test cricket in 2013 with his last match being played against Bangladesh at the R. Premadasa Stadium. Dilshan played 87 test matches amassing 5,492 runs along with 16 centuries and 39 wickets. Dilshan achieved his highest test score in England, where he scored 193 runs in the second test at the Lord's cricket ground, against England.
Dilshan's One-Day International debut also came during Sri Lanka's tour of Zimbabwe in 1999, where he scored 31 runs against Zimbabwe. His maiden ODI century came against Netherlands on the 4 July 2006 where he smashed an unbeaten 117* runs along with Sanath Jayasuriya's 157 to help Sri Lanka post the highest ever ODI score of 443 runs.
Dilshan played almost all his international matches as a middle-order all-round batsman during his early years. However by 2007, he was selected to open the batting with Sanath Jayasuriya in ODI game against India where he started to showcase himself as a attacking and threatening opening batsman. Since 2007, his stroke play has included a host of aggressive strokes which has allowed him to dominate the ODIs arena on many occasions. Currently he is slotted as a permanent opening batsman for Sri Lanka as well as operating as a handy right-arm off-break bowler in ODI matches.
Dilshan is credited for the creation of the Dilscoop, which he stumbled upon and then perfected, during the Indian Premier League 2009 tournament. His innovative stroke play is acknowledged by many commentators and pundits thereby earning the recognition of being known as one of the most aggressive batsmen of all time. Apart from his Dilscoop, Dilshan is a prolific player of width possessing the ability to hit nearly any delivery pitched outside the off-stump for runs, and has perfected a lethal cover drive against pace bowlers.
Dilshan was the top run scorer in the 2011 Cricket World Cup. He scored 500 runs from nine One Day international innings with a best score of 144 runs against Zimbabwe. He scored two centuries, two half centuries, 61 boundaries and four sixes during the tournament which ended at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India in April 2011.
However, his appointment as captain was questioned by cricket fans and pundits alike. Many wondered if he was the right man to lead Sri Lanka. While, Dilshan did score 193 runs against England at Lord's, and broke the record for the highest individual score made by a Sri Lankan at the venue, plus leading Sri Lanka to their maiden test win in South Africa. Losses to England, Australia, Pakistan and South Africa put strain on his captaincy which he relinquished in Jan 2012.
Dilshan became the 5th player in international cricket to score centuries in all forms of the game. During the Australian tour of Sri Lanka in 2011, Dilshan scored an unbeaten century of 104* from just 54 balls in the first Twenty20 match of the series, becoming the 5th player to achieve the milestone after West Indian Chris Gayle, New Zealander Brendon McCullum, Indian Suresh Raina and fellow Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardena and it is also the highest individual twenty20 international score by a Sri Lankan in the history. He scored the century from just 57 balls with 12 fours and 5 sixes. He achieved his century with a dilscoop hitting behind the wicket-keeper.
In December 2011, Sri Lanka registered their first ever Test wins in South Africa. This also became their first Test win under Dilshan's captaincy. However, after losing the Test series 2–1 and the subsequent ODI series 3–2, Dilshan resigned and was replaced by Mahela Jayawardene. In 2012, he was ranked the second-highest ODI run scorer, with 1119 runs, behind his team-mate Kumar Sangakkara.
On 16 December 2014, on his 300 One-Day International, he scored his 18th One-Day International century and also passed the 9000 runs in ODIs. He became the 5th Sri Lankan cricker and 15th overall to achieve this landmark. He also took 3 crucial wickets in the match against England and aided Sri Lanka's title claim as the winners of the tournament. He won both man of the match award and man of the series award.
TM Dilshan on his way to his 18th ODI century
On 23 January 2015, Dilshan scored his 20th One-Day International century against New Zealand, becoming the 10th batsmen to score 20 ODI centuries.
On 26 February 2015, he scored an unbeaten 161* runs during the group stage match of 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup against Bangladesh. This was his highest individual score in ODIs and was the highest score by a Sri Lankan in Cricket World Cup history, a title previously held by Aravinda de Silva and his 145 runs against Zimbabwe in 2003. This is also the highest individual score without a six in the ODI history. With this score of 161, Dilshan brings his tally of 150+ scores in ODIs to 3 and comes second to Sanath Jayasuriya in achieving the most 150+ ODI scores. Where Sanath has recorded 4 150+ scored in One-Day Internationals. Also, during his innings of 161*, he shared a 206* run second wicket partnership with Kumar Sangakkara. This was the highest second wicket partnership for Sri Lanka in ODIs, but was surpassed in the following match between Sri Lanka and England by a 212* run stand between Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne.
On 1 March 2015, during the world cup group match against England, Dilshan took his 100th ODI wicket by dismissing Gary Balance off his own bowling, thus becoming the 3rd Sri Lankan to score 3000 runs and taking 100 wickets after Jayasuriya and Aravinda.
In the same World Cup, during a group match against Australia, Dilshan smashed 24 runs off aMitchell Johnson over, scoring six consecutive 4s, a first in World Cup history.
After the loss to South Africa on 18 March 2015, in the quarter finals of World Cup, Sangakkara and Mahela retired from the ODI cricket. When asked the same question from Dilshan concerning his retirement, Dilshan stated that until Sri Lanka found a good opening bastman he will continue to feature in the shorter forms of the game about 2 years or so. Dilshan got out without scoring in the quarter finals and Sri Lanka exited a World Cup the first time without at least making the semi finals since 2003.
Dilshan publicly displayed his support to Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2015 Presidential Election which has received severe criticism from some of his fans. He did so by welcoming Mahinda Rajapakse to Maharagama for an election rally.
Dilshan has 16 Test centuries, 22 One-Day International centuries, and 1 Twenty20 International century. He is the second Sri Lankan and fifth overall to achieve international centuries in all forms of the game.