Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
With the 2015 World Cup fast approaching, the demand for pace bowlers has never been higher since the tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand, where the pitches are predominantly pace friendly.
Sri Lanka have always had excellent spinners, but none of their fast bowlers have really stood out as of late. That was the case until the recently concluded ODI series against Pakistan, which Sri Lanka won 2-1.
All-rounder Thisara Perera’s stock has probably risen to an all-time high after he excelled with both the bat and ball, scoring 78 runs at an average of 39 and taking nine wickets at an astounding average of 10.66.
Perera’s superb performance, along with his outstanding statistics, have led to captain Angelo Mathews saying that he will definitely play a major part in Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign.
“Thisara has worked really hard with the coaches to get here in the past couple of months,” Mathews said. “The support staff has been fantastic. Though he wasn’t part of the team, he was working really hard and improving his fitness in batting and bowling. That’s what we want, because going into the World Cup he is going to be a major part of our squad. We want him to improve day by day and he’s been brilliant in this series.”
Perera has been in and out of the ODI squad in the past due to concerns over whether he could actually bowl his full quota of overs. But, after training harder and becoming fitter, the 25-year-old is determined to make the most of all his opportunities prior to the start of the World Cup.
“During the South Africa Test series, I practised alone with three coaches whom I have to thank,” Perera said. “Anusha Samaranayake, Sumithra Warnakulasuriya and Ruwin Peiris worked with me for one month from morning till afternoon every day, practising bowling and batting. I am really indebted to them for helping me get back into the team.”
Perera performed brilliantly during the third ODI against Pakistan in Dambulla, recording figures of 4-34 as the tourists were bowled out for a dismal 102. However, what was extremely odd was the fact that three of Perera’s wickets came from bouncers.
“We planned before the match that some Pakistan players can’t hit the short balls, so we thought of using the short balls in this match,” Perera said. “Umar Akmal’s wicket was a big one because he is a dangerous player.”
While Sri Lanka continue to celebrate the resurgence of Perera, they can also be thrilled about how fellow seamer Dhammika Prasad has been playing over the past couple of months.
In fact, during the third ODI, Prasad finished with figures of 2-25 and Mathews stated that his effort with the ball early on set the tone for the match.
“After the last win, the confidence had been really high in our camp,” Mathews said. “After losing to Pakistan in the first game, we knew it was hard for us to come back into the series.
“But the boys showed a lot of character, especially Dhammika Prasad. He was given the opportunity and he grabbed it with both hands. The turning point of the match was at the start, when Prasad got those two early wickets. Malinga then chipped in, then Thisara came in and got us those wickets. Our bowlers in the first 16-20 overs were brilliant and that did the damage for the Pakistanis.”