Pavilion Parade by M V Muhsin
January 23rd, 2010 by Admin

Thissara Perera strikes it big

When I wrote about Thissara Perera in the Daily News on January 10, it would have been pretty presumptuous to have expected him to be picked in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction. After all there were eight Sri Lankans shortlisted and Thissara was one of many.

But, as I penned last week, Thissara Perera was in the National spotlight 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 and made sure that he waved his bat like a magic wand, and won the game for Sri Lanka. Little wonder then that he has now bagged the US $ 50,000 contract (over five million Sri Lankan rupees) at the age of 19 with the same audacity as his match winning strokes. So, to honour this young lad, what I wrote then bears repetition.

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? 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-to- 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 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 now Sri Lankan hearts and minds will take leave of the hustings that consumes all of us, and instead focus on this daring lad as he plays for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL series that commences March 12. One can be sure that if he keeps the cucumberish cool and calculated composure that has become his trademark, he will do us proud.