All-rounder Thisara Perera lauded the inexperienced Sri Lankan team following their historic T20 series sweep in Pakistan, even though their performance has put pressure on players like himself.
Sri Lanka’s T20 triumph was historic in more ways than one. Not many gave the visitors much of a chance after 10 of their senior players did not travel, most of them due to concerns over security. Perera was among those who did not feature. He wanted to take part in the Caribbean Premier League but was not given a No Objection Certificate.
Meanwhile on the ground, a weakened team was taking on a top-ranked outfit in its backyard. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Sri Lanka have a good account of themselves in the ODI series, which they lost 2-0, before taking the T20s 3-0.
Such has been the brilliance of the likes of left-hand batsman Bhanuka Rajapaksa and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, senior and established players will now have to be on guard.
"Every senior player in the Sri Lanka team will be feeling pressure. It's good for Sri Lankan cricket," Perera told The National on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi T10 player draft.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen, in particular, had shown glimpses of real fight in the ODIs while posting 238 and 297. They took that confidence into the T20 series where they batted first on all three occasions, posted totals of 165, 182 and 147 and crushed the hosts by 64, 35 and 13 runs respectively.
The series success brought back memories of Sri Lanka’s famous Test series win in South Africa earlier in the year when Kusal Perera hit an unbeaten 153 to help chase down 304 in Durban and set the stage for a 2-0 sweep.
Perera said these results show the depth of the Sri Lankan talent pool and added he was proud of his young teammates.
“As a Sri Lankan, I am very proud of them. A young team beat the number one T20 side. I think we have very good bench strength. After so many players refused to travel to Pakistan, they got an opportunity to represent their country and they grabbed it with both hands,” said Perera, who will turn out as the icon player for Bangla Tigers in Abu Dhabi next month.
“In the last T20 they made five changes. [But it’s about] the team that made less mistakes. And that is why they won the series. They played really well, especially in the T20s. They showed unity and were running everywhere, showing intent. Hasaranga and Bhanuka are definite stars of the future. They grabbed their opportunities when they came.”