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Andrew Fidel Fernando
March 27, 2013
Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, has lauded the aggression and confidence of new batsman Kusal Perera, who helped the team achieve two rapid starts in the first two ODIs, after being pushed up the order.
Perera came into the side as a wicketkeeper batsman who bats in the middle order, but has since been elevated to opener in both ODIs and Twenty20s. He and Tillakaratne Dilshan blitzed 83 runs in the first eight overs of the first match, before launching another early assault in the second ODI, until the rains came.
"Kusal reminds me of the legendary Sanath Jayasuriya, because of the shots that he plays," Mathews said. "He's very fearless and he hasn't changed anything about the way he plays since he was in the under-19 teams. He wants to take on any bowler that comes his way, and he takes a lot of pressure off Dilshan as well. That combination works for us."
Perera first impressed during the limited-overs leg of Sri Lanka's tour of Australia, where he played several brief but belligerent innings - the most notable of which was an unbeaten 22 to see the side home in a low-scorer at the Gabba. He has not crossed fifty in internationals, but is coming off first-class scores of 203, 97 and 336, the last of which is a Sri Lankan domestic record.
"Every single player has his own way. We don't want to change that in any player. We want him to go out there and enjoy it. The selectors are very transparent with the players, so I'm sure as the chief selector, Sanath Jayasuriya has had a chat with Kusal about his longer-term plans for the team."
Sri Lanka had made 33 for no loss after five overs, before the rains came in the second ODI, and the washout means Sri Lanka must win their final match to win the series. Mathews suggested, Sri Lanka are likely to name an unchanged XI in the final match, meaning Angelo Perera, Sachith Pathirana and Kithuruwan Vithanage may not debut in ODIs in this series.
Vithanage and Angelo Perera have been picked in the Twenty20 squad, and are well in the running to play in that match, given the absence of senior players in that squad.
"If we had won the second ODI we would have tried out some new players. We still haven't decided on our XI but I'm pretty sure that the team might have been changed if we had won the second ODI. The first few overs we got off to a really good start, but it was disappointing that the rain came down quite heavily and we couldn't play a single over after that. As far as the team is concerned, you have to be relaxed about something like that, but we need to get our focus back and get things in line for the next game.
"I feel that it is a good challenge for us. We haven't won the series yet, so we have to play some really good cricket to win it. From a thinking point of view we have to be as positive as we can, and try and play to our potential."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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