Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Perera said that a renewed determination to bat through the innings enabled him return to form with a match-winning 77 from 53 balls in his side's six-wicket win over Bangladesh on Tuesday at Khettarama.
Having suffered a lean run of scores on the tour of Zimbabwe last year, and then having failed somewhat spectacularly in the Boxing Day Test in Port Elizabeth, Kusal was dropped from all of Sri Lanka's squads. Kusal had also managed only 30 runs from six first-class innings upon his return to Sri Lanka.
He found his feet again in the Sri Lanka A team, playing unofficial one-dayers against the touring England Lions. In that series he hit 59 and an unbeaten 70, scoring at well below a run-a-ball in both instances. His 77 at Khettarama was also as notable for his restraint as it was for his hitting. He took four overs to work himself into the innings, and at first, attacked only the deliveries in his strongest hitting zones.
"I failed in the four-day matches after I came back, and I wasn't prepared for them also," Kusal said. "Sometimes you have to be prepared to fail. I realised I got a lot of starts but wasn't finishing things off. Getting those 20s and 30s are of no use either to me, or the team. So I strove to bat till the end. When the loose ball comes I am anyway waiting to hit it, but recently I tried to bat long, and that's what's helped me."
An injury to Niroshan Dickwella, and Dinesh Chandimal's continued absence in the T20 squads had meant that Kusal was virtually guaranteed to play this match. However, he did have to beat out competition for the opening position - there are four career openers in this squad. As it turned out, Kusal opened the batting with Upul Tharanga, but said a stable place in the XI was not among his motivations during this innings.
"I don't want to think about holding on to my place while I play," Kusal said. "Any player can be dropped at any time, and that's part of the game. If you're constantly thinking about that possibility, you won't be able to get far. What's important is making the most of the opportunity you get, to do something for the team."