Thisara Perera’s coming of age | Daily News

Thisara Perera’s coming of age

From the time Thisara Perera made his international debut for his country at the age of 20, the big hitting fast bowling all-rounder was expected to deliver on the big stage because of the extraordinary talent he possessed. He was a captain’s dream in the short format and when he first came into the national side against India at Kolkata in 2009 Sri Lanka looked upon him as an outright match-winner.

But to everyone’s dismay Perera failed to live upto that expectation and his contributions with bat and ball were only few and far between. There was never any consistency in his cricket and he was to say the least acting like a spoilt child with immaturity getting the better of him. Sri Lanka never benefitted from his talent.

However the advent of Chandika Hathurusingha as the head coach of the national team has transformed Perera’s cricket outlook and if his contributions with the bat in the last two ODIs against New Zealand are to be viewed one could say that there is a marked improvement in his approach to his batting.

Hathurusingha we reliably learn has been having an hourly one to one chat daily with Perera and working with him on his batting. The stunning innings that Perera played in the second ODI against New Zealand at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui - 140 off 74 balls that included 13 sixes was testimony to the sudden transformation that has taken place in his batting. His batting certainly jangled the Black Caps’ nerves as they were looking to wrap the game up after having Sri Lanka down and virtually out at 128-7 chasing an imposing 320. They eventually managed to win by 21 runs with Perera being the last wicket to fall after completing his maiden ODI century.

To prove that innings was no fluke Perera followed it up with another crackerjack innings of 80 off 63 balls in the third ODI at Nelson to once again finish as his team’s top scorer. But with hardly any support coming from the rest of the side these two brilliant knocks proved a vain effort as Sri Lanka lost both the contests.

For Perera to come thus far in his rather chequered career he has to thank former Sri Lanka Cricket vice-president and former Colombo Colts CC president K Mathivanan. If not for Mathivanan’s intervention Perera’s budding career would have been shut even before it had started.

Perera was caught misbehaving during an under 19 match in 2004 while representing his country and team manager Ashley de Silva (currently the CEO of SLC) was adamant to have him thrown out of the squad. However Mathivanan saw the hidden talent in the boy and ensured he remained in the squad but he was disciplined. Later Mathivanan took him under his wings and employed him and got him playing for Colombo Colts CC from where Perera started to blossom as a cricketer with a future.

However personal issues continued to dogged Perera’s career that prevented him from displaying his full talent to the national team.

There was this instance of while playing for his alma mater St Joseph’s College in a first eleven cricket match he went missing on the second day as he had got married to his childhood sweetheart at the age of 18. Sri Lanka players Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne were contemporaries of Perera in the Josephian side.

In another instance Perera was found to be at fault for trying to shun training so that he would be dropped from the Sri Lanka ‘A’ side that would allow him to participate at private T20 tournaments. It was while participating in one such tournament the Big Bash League (BBL) for Brisbane Heat that he earned the nickname “Panda” that was bestowed upon him by George Bailey, the former Australian one-day captain.

These unwanted side distractions had a detrimental effect on the progress of Perera’s career that saw him in and out of the national side.

He was even at one time entrusted with the Sri Lanka T20I captaincy when the majority of players refused to travel to Lahore to play in a T20I against Pakistan in October 2017 and proved to be a very popular figure. He has since captained his country in 9 T20I and 3 ODIs.

The way things are progressing Perera might even be handed back the one-day captaincy now that he has proved his mettle befitting his status as a worthy all-rounder. He has matured into the cricketer that we all want to see and a lot of praise for making that change in him should go to Hathurusingha and ex-batting coach Thilan Samaraweera whom Perera credited to bringing about a change to his batting.

With the World Cup fast approaching Perera’s contributions with the bat is only a silver lining against a grey sky as the team struggles to get to terms to become a competitive one-day side.

PUSHPAKUMARA EQUALS PRAMODYA WICKREMASINGHE’S FEAT

Sri Lanka’s left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara bowled himself into the record books by equalling the feat of former Sri Lanka fast bowler Pramodya Wickremasinghe by capturing all ten wickets in an innings in a first-class match. Pushpakumara notched the joint 13th best ever figures in a first-class match taking 10 for 37 for Colombo CC to cement his place in the history books. The 31-year-old left-armer who is looked at as the successor to legendary left-arm spinner Rangana Herath skittled Saracens SC single-handedly helping to bowl them out for 113 in pursuit of 349 in a Premier Tier A league match played at Moratuwa last Sunday.

Opening the bowling in the second innings Pushpakumara bowled unchanged for 18.4 overs and during the course of his record passed the 700-wicket mark in first-class cricket. He becomes the first player since 2009 to notch a first-class ten-for after Pakistan’s Zulfiqar Babar who performed it for Multan against Islamabad with 10/146.

The only other Sri Lankan bowler to perform this feat is Wickremasinghe who dismissed an entire team unassisted taking 10/41 in 19.2 overs for SSC v Kalutara PCC at SSC grounds in 1991-92.


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