Improved Thisara dreams big


Thisara Perera (L) and Dasun Shanaka during the fourth One Day International between Sri Lanka and South Africa at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on August 8. (Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP)

Rex Clementine in Pallekele

There is definite improvement in all-rounder Thisara Perera’s game with the 29-year-old going on to prove that he can be a match-winner either with the bat or ball. Thisara averages an impressive 45 with the bat in the current series while his bowling average of 20 is the best in the series by any bowler, in pace or spin. He is also the second-highest wicket taker for Sri Lanka with seven scalps while Akila Dananjaya has claimed eight wickets.

There was never a doubt about Thisara’s potential, but he used to underachieve and was in and out of the side. But the arrival of Chandika Hathurusingha has seen remarkable improvement in his game. His shot selection at present is far better while he has ceased to be a predominantly on-side player adding a couple of shots on the off-side as well.

Thisara last week in Dambulla claimed his 150th ODI wicket and could go on to take 300 wickets. But his ambitions are much higher.

"Not just as a bowler, but as a player my goal is to bring the World Cup back to Sri Lanka. I was in the team that won the World T20. If I play well, I’ll be able to do something for the team. What I want is to take the team forward and my main target is next year’s World Cup," Thisara told journalists after Sri Lanka’s stunning three-wicket win in the fourth ODI at Pallekele.

Thanks to a record seventh-wicket partnership of 109 runs between Thisara (51 n.o.)and Man of the Match Dasun Shanaka (65), Sri Lanka were able to post 306 for seven in a game reduced to 39 overs due to rain. Further interruptions saw South Africa being set a revised target of 191 in 21 overs.

"We’re very happy as a team because even though we have lost the series, we played with a lot of enthusiasm to prevent a whitewash. We had momentum since the start of the game. We had a good start, and then Dasun and I were able to finish well. Even the bowling was good, because 190 is a very easy target given the wet conditions, especially after they had hit 21 in the first two overs."

At 195 for six with 11 overs left and Sri Lanka down to the last recognised pair, they could have collapsed to an average total, but Thisara and Shanaka showed character to post a commanding total. "As soon as Dasun came, I told him that we shouldn’t stop playing our shots. We are both positive batsmen. We planned three overs by three overs at the start. And then after a while we realised that we were seeing the ball well. So we decided on a target of 280. Dasun was especially good at hitting boundaries, so we were able to pass 300. A 100-run partnership is not easy because their bowlers were bowling well and we had lost six wickets then," explained Thisara.

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