Sri Lanka v India, tri-series, 5th ODI, Dambulla August 22, 2010

Thisara Perera spices up selection race

The allrounder, playing his first game of the tournament, made sure his name remains in the selection mix with a disciplined bowling effort that earned him a maiden five-wicket haul

When usually talking about a match-winning Sri Lankan bowling performance, it's all about the unconventional. Unorthodox actions, mystery bowling, doosras. On Sunday, though, it was old-fashioned line-and-length bowling with hardly any frills that undid India. The sturdily-built allrounder Thisara Perera, playing his first game of the tournament, made sure his name remains in the selection mix with a disciplined bowling effort that earned him a maiden five-wicket haul.

Previously, the only impact on the international circuit made by Perera, a 21-year-old who had seven wickets at 44.85 coming into the game, was through a couple of hard-hitting cameos which gave him an eye-popping strike-rate of 136.26.

He was under plenty of pressure coming into the match, given the strong competition for places in the Sri Lankan team. Angelo Mathews has already sealed one fast-bowling allrounder's spot, and with Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekera also being automatic picks, Perera is restricted to being the fourth quick bowler in the team. For that he has to beat the likes of Dilhara Fernando, Thilan Thushara and Farveez Maharoof, Sri Lanka's allrounder of choice till a couple of years ago. Then there are upcoming allrounders like Jeevan Mendis to deal with, and vying for the No. 7 slot are yet another bunch of contenders.

If that was weighing on Perera's shoulders, he would have been buoyed by the slightly fortuitous wicket of Suresh Raina as early as his second delivery. There wasn't any prodigious movement for him but he worked up a decent pace, up to the mid-130s, for the bulk of his spell.

There was more encouragement in his second over, tricking Indian captain MS Dhoni into nicking a couple of deliveries past the keeper to third man. After the top-order flopped, Dhoni was the batsman Indian fans put their faith in to right the nosediving innings. It wasn't to be as Perera had him caught behind for 10 in his third over, when Dhoni waltzed down the track and tried to work the ball from well outside off to the leg side.

Sri Lanka and Perera were cock-a-hoop with India at 71 for 5, but things were to get even better for both very soon. Ravindra Jadeja and Praveen Kumar went for ducks off consecutive deliveries, and Perera found himself on a hat-trick, which Ashish Nehra managed to avert, much to the boisterous Sunday crowd's disappointment.

They were cheering again when Perera rounded off his dream day with a lovely delivery to clean up Ishant Sharma and complete a five-for. Kumar Sangakkara was thrilled the experiment to pick Perera paid off. "It was not just the conditions, we knew there was a bit of rain about, we also wanted to lengthen our batting a bit," Sangakkara said after the match. "He is also a quality seamer, very successful against India in all his outings, so we thought it would be the right move, and it really worked for us."

Perera is yet another product of Sri Lanka's famed school system, winning a string of prestigious awards for St Joseph's College in their annual Big Matches against traditional rivals St Peter's College and, as a result, earning places on Sri Lanka's squad to the Under-19 World Cups in 2006 and 2008. Next stop was the Colts Cricket Club, where an unbeaten 113 with eight sixes followed by a five-wicket haul in a Premier Championship match against Moors Sports Club last December expedited his entry to the national team.

Today's performance marks the highlight of a success-filled career so far, but as Sangakkara stressed at the post-match conference, consistency is what needs to be achieved. Pitches like the ones in Dambulla may allow for a seam-heavy attack but on more traditional subcontinental tracks, unless he continues to make a compelling case, Perera will be overlooked.

Maharoof's recent form should be a cautionary tale; he took a hat-trick on course to a five-wicket haul against India in the Asia Cup, but after just one more failure - an anonymous performance in the final of the tournament - he has been shunted out of the squad.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jaya on August 26, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    SL is getting better and better, I agree that. But It's really poor that u didn't know much about happenings in SL team itself. Except Murali, Sanath and Vaas(retired only from Test cricket) had been thrown out of the team because of their bad performance and now you are comparing them with current players. And moreover before talking much about Indian players you must replay the IPL. You are saying that SL are playing better than India but can u please mention any one test series in abroad except Sub continental pitches where SL performed much better than India. No players or teams can be judged by one or two matches. If u want to do so means jus recollect the 1st series under Dravid against SL where SL is crushed by India 6-1.

  • Ramzi on August 24, 2010, 15:48 GMT

    he he mr Manian.MBS i think u all indian guys try to hide da truth.dnt u thnk abt IND vs NZ match??? itz better to find out god 15 for da wrld cup rather den blaming da umpires.whr z ya bench players MR Manian.MBS??? all da tym u talkin abt tendulkars shewags wt abt one or two of thores players get injerrd on wrld cu? den also u guys gona tell injry z a reasn or try to blame umpires or try to find out sum othr resn to balme to hide da indian players faults.look @ sri lankans nw.thy dnt blame anyone.evn thy wit out sana vassy nd murali thy try to devalop a strong team.all da best lankans.hope u wl archv one step head of rich nd powerfull indians in 20 11 wrd cup.

  • Rakitha on August 24, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    @randikaayya: Freind, I think you have misunderstood my previous comment. Mathews is already a permanent member of ODI team. Either Thissara Perera or Jeevan Mendis should be the second allrounder.Look at my previous comment again. (7.Thisara Perera / Jeevan Mendis) .That means one of them. I didn't mean both.

    Maharoof is also a good allrounder.But he is not consistent since his beginning. Even Kapu is an excellent fielder comparing to Samaraweera we are not in a position to trust Kapu's batting.

    Other than that I also have the same idea as you.

    Dilshan,Mahela,Sanga,Mathews,Malinga should be definitely there. Mahela should open with Dilshan.

    Two batsmen out of Chandimal/Smaraweera/Chamara Silva/Tharanga

    Then the second allrounder (Thissara Perera/ Jeevan Mendis).

    Kulasekara is much better comparing to Dilhara/Welagedara/Thushara

    And two spinners out of Marali/Randiv/Mendis/Herath

    It will be a great combination

  • P Subramani on August 24, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    A good victory for Sri Lanka after they were forced to go in an appologetic mode after the No Ball episode. The humiliating portrayal by the media called for this kind of win. Indian supporters remind me of one of my friends when I was young who was in our cricket playing group. He was very rich and so, owned the set that we played with. Everything was firne till he was given out. If that happened, he would declare "Stumps" regardless of the light conditions or the time of the day. While India's angry retorts may seem unreasonable, one should be happy that they have managed to change the power equations in cricket with their brand of power. West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and the new South Africa should be thankful in one voice that they have India in some sort of support.Incidentally, when the URDS was used in the Tests last time, it went 8/1 in Sri Lanka's favour. Dharmasena was the 3rd umpire ! The acronym could well be Umpiring review by Dharmasena.

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Remember Mahroof in Asia cup .The perfomance brings that back.Cricinfo has the same story Selsction dillemma and all that .Perera is a nervous player like Harbajan .If he gets a start he will kill and if not get killed

  • Randika on August 24, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    @Mahanama: You can't have 3 allrounder slots in a team my friend. Mathews, Perera and Jeevan Mendis can never be together in the full strength team. Maximum two slots can be allocated to allrounders since all of the young sri lankans are good in both facets. One must include maharoof also in the mix for allrounder slots. But recently Randiv, Kulasekara, Malinga and even Ajantha Mendis have shown considerable prowess with the bat. We may not want too many bits and pieces cricketers in the team so at maximum two all rounders.

    Established batsmen are only Dilshan, Mahela and Sanga. for two more slots Tharanga, Thilan, Chandimal, kapu and Chamara Silva should compete. Then come the two allrounder slots and 4 specialist bowlers. Malinga is an automatic pick so there shall be a healthy competition for the other three slots between bowlers.

    Fielding too is quite important and the value that Kapu and Chamara Silva add to SriLankan fielding will make the competition even more interesting.

  • Balasubramanian on August 24, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    Great Work by KUMAR SQUARES ( Dharmasena & Sankakara). Keep it up. The cricketing fertanity appreciate your effort.

    K.....e.......e......P I.....T U...P .^! Lan....Kumars. ( networking Kumars)

  • Balasubramanian on August 24, 2010, 2:57 GMT

    Dear All folk,

    Remember, Even the remains of grand Ma, who was burried long back can take wickets and win the match like what the Lankans did on sunday, if Kumar dharmasena raises his finger for every ball. Let the Lankans plays a decent game without umpires help( including UDRS umpires - after all the UDRS also operated by Lankan umpires), then you can talk about the talent with in you. There was some regard for Mahela & Sankakara as batsmen of world class, but after they way Sanka reactes, he deserve to be below the boot.

  • VaRUN on August 24, 2010, 1:27 GMT

    Headlines should have been: BOWLERS WIN THE GAME FOR SRI LANKA - PAST AND PRESENT. Everybody knows what I mean. 4 "incorrect" decisions in 1 game, that too against the same(opposing)team?

  • Nuwan on August 23, 2010, 19:49 GMT

    Sri Lanka should have Kapugedara and also should give chnaces to Mahela Udawatte, Chamara looks in good touch, Thisara Perera is always has been a promissing player. We should not forget Thushara Mirando, Dinesh Chandimal i think all thiese guys deserves a chance in WC 2011

  • No featured comments at the moment.