Thisara Perera is crucial to his team’s plans for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and has been informed of that, said Thilan Samaraweera, the Sri Lanka batting coach.
Sri Lanka put up just 193 in their first one-day international against South Africa in Dambulla on Sunday, 29 July, and while Kusal Perera led the way for them with a 72-ball 81, Thisara’s blitz – 49 from 30 balls – was important. Seeing that they got together at 36/5, it was a good effort from the two, even if South Africa won the match in a canter at the end.
Perera, 29, has been playing international cricket since 2009, but his numbers don’t do justice to the immense potential he has always possessed.
One of Sri Lanka’s most widely-travelled Twenty20 players, Perera has always possessed the ability to swing matches with his bat from low in the batting order and put in important overs with the ball. He hasn’t always shown the consistency though.
Of late, the numbers have improved.
Looking only at 2018, he was Player of the Tournament as Sri Lanka won the triangular ODI series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in Dhaka, with 134 runs in four innings and 11 wickets.
In Twenty20 Internatioanls, while he hasn’t always been among the wickets, his contributions with the bat have been good. Only twice has he failed to cross 20 in seven outings, and he has scores of 39*, 31, 58 and 61 in the other five games, the last of them for ICC World XI against the Windies in the Hurricane Relief T20 Challenge match at Lord’s. Seeing that he usually bats in the lower middle-order, it’s been quite impressive.
“In the last six months, he's improved a lot as a batsman. I gave a lot of space to him, and he's getting there. The good thing is, after his dismissal he showed a lot of disappointment in the dressing room, because this was one of the best opportunities for him to get an ODI hundred,” said Samaraweera, the 41-year-old former opening batsman.
With Angelo Mathews not much of a bowler anymore because of all the injuries he has had to deal with, Perera emerges as a key cog in the Sri Lankan wheel for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
“We had a lot of discussions, and we emphasised to Thisara how important he is to the 2019 World Cup. I think you have to give a lot of credit to bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake also. He changed Thisara's bowling approach. He was very slow to the crease before Rumesh came, and in the last seven months, we can see how much faster he is to the stumps,” said Samaraweera.
“We had strong discussions, and sometimes disagreements. But Thisara is heading in the right direction at the moment.”
The second ODI between Sri Lanka and South Africa will be played on 1 August, also in Dambulla.