Pavilion Parade by M V Muhsin
January 9th, 2010 by Admin

Thissara Perera – a class act

From the very first moment Thissara Perera was in the national spotlight last Tuesday among the millions of TV viewers, he attached himself to the notion of audacity. He walked in with Sri Lanka needing 54 off 39 balls.

The Indian TV commentator did not hide his glee that India had broken the back of the batting order. Sri Lankan viewers, one must confess, had a sense of resignation to the inevitable fate that has become so commonplace: so near and yet so far! With typical “karmatic” expectation one asked rhetorically: what can Samaraweera do alone?

The best that can be expected of the 19 year old Perera, raw in international outings, was for him to simply hang on and protect the ominous collapse.

For rarely has there been a Sri Lankan middle order batsman in recent time who could survive the heat of the burning platform as the one that we now confronted against the giant India. This is the time when nerves give way. It’s when pressure debilitates concentration. And it’s when hope and aspirations are shattered.

Yet, the young Josephian is made of more steely DNA. First, he broke through the psychological barrier by taking Zaheer Khan through cover. Well, some thought, this is just luck! A fluke shot, perhaps!! Let’s see what Samaraweera can do?


Thissara Perera

Samaraweera had so far played a consistent innings, calculated and judiciously placed drives; and quick singles.

He was not going to throw his wicket away and hand the match over to the Indians on a platter. Let’s continue to play strongly, but conservatively, and have a steady run rate, and sneak a win, seemed to be the Samaraweera approach. This is not to diminish in any way his stellar leadership and solid and unyielding performance. It was crunch time, and Sri Lanka seemed to have little horse power left!

And then it appeared that there was a planetary change! The firework display began. It seemed as if the surplus left over from the weekend’s New Year celebration had been carted into the stadium. Yes indeed, the Planets had changed in a flash. How else can one explain what happened?

Here was Thissara, taking on the up-t- then unplayable and tricky Asish Nehra. It was as if a nonchalant trance had captured Thissara. He was not afraid to hook the ball; not afraid to play all his strokes, most in front of the wicket. There was that square cut and purposeful drives between mid off and cover. Not something he had not planned mentally; no something he dispatched without a purpose, He did it with such purpose.

Here was Thissara put on display, unexpectedly, without fanfare, but with all the merciless disrespect that one can show to an international competitor that was India. Put in colloquial terms he “thrashed the daylights” out of the Indian bowling. . What was profound was that it was done with a determined, but conservative boldness. It was not Thissara swinging wildly to beat the clock.

There was technical prowess in his approach; a glint in his eye and a disarming smile that reflected how much he was enjoying himself.

Here was the middle order batsman who without being confined to the shadows and trying to be being content in staying at the opposite end of the striker, Thissara offered the exact opposite: flagrant, wanting to strike and score to win. He had that aura of competence; thoughtful but tenacious; with an inward assurance that we can do it. And what of Samaraweera in the meantime?

He was enjoying the fireworks as he has not done before. Confident that Thissara was as safe as the bank!

The selection of young players such as Thissara is a clear vindication of the strategy of Kumar Sangakkara who insists that unless we get in young players with such potential into the side, sacrificing the comfort zone of the masters of yesteryear, Sri Lanka will not regain the top spot in the world.

Pleased as I was to see my fellow columnist Elmo Rodrigopulle advocating such change and heaping tributes for Sangakkara’s strategy, I was hoping that others too will see that THIS is the strategy that will define the success to Sri Lanka in years to come.

And so to end where the match ended: If Thilan was deservedly “The Man of the Match”, Thissara was the Superstar in this action thriller. He played the role in such style. It was a class act.