Sri Lankan new ODI skipper Kusal Perera rode on his luck on his thanks to a gritty hundred but which will hardly deduct his effort and determination to steer from the front against the hosts within the third game of the three-match series. The victory didn’t just help Sri Lanka avoid a series sweep for Bangladesh, but also earned them their first points within the ODI Super League, providing them a renewed sense of hope of their fortunes within the format.
The new-look Sri Lankan side had their back against the wall after losing their maiden ODI series to Bangladesh, which sparked widespread criticism from different quarters.
Legendary opener Sanath Jayasuriya, who scored on the brink of 7,000 runs from 110 Tests and 13,430 runs from 445 ODIs, expressed anguish on his official Twitter page.
“As a past player and captain, it’s extremely difficult on behalf of me to return to terms with the primary series loss to Bangladesh. National pride is at stake boys fight to the last,” wrote Jayasuriya after the series loss to Bangladesh on May 25.
It’s hard to mention if this lit a spark within the Sri Lankan room, but they did begin and play love it did, as Perera – who is incidentally likened to Jayasuriya for his sort of play – led from the front.
It wasn’t a bed of roses for him to steer over though. He was battling back trouble as early because of the 10th over of the innings, needing the physio’s help to continue batting on. He wasn’t as expansive as his opening partner Danushka Gunathilaka at the beginning of their 82-run stand, but Perera managed to ace his early match-up against the house team’s spinners – Mehidy Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain – which set the tone for him and his side.
Perera expertly combined caution and aggression through a phase where Bangladesh threatened to tug things back via Taskin Ahmed’s successive strikes. He ensured the platform for an enormous, competitive total was laid down when he joined forces with Kusal Mendis to start Bangladesh’s revival.
Perera opted to steer beyond taking Shakib Al Hasan on, and it proved to be an honest decision at the end of the day. within the 11 fours hit in his 122-ball effort, just two of them were his signature shot – driven through covers. He targeted the square boundary tons more, with the sole one six sailings over midwicket. Perera made most of the rub of the green on his side, as Bangladesh dropped him thrice – when he was on 66, on 79, and eventually on 99.
He finished on 120 that laid the inspiration for Sri Lanka’s win, repaying the religion that the team management put in him once they decided to hand him the captaincy while axing a couple of of the senior players.