Sri Lanka vs Australia 2016: Angelo Mathews praises 'silent hero' Dilruwan Perera
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews praised off-spinner Dilruwan Perera as a ‘silent hero’ after he became the fastest Sri Lankan to fifty Test wickets – a milestone he achieved playing in his 11th match, which is one better than the previous record holder, Ajantha Mendis. Mathews feels that the 34-year-old’s feats in Test cricket has gone unnoticed to a large extent due to being overshadowed by the brilliance of a certain Rangana Herath.
Perera played a key role in Sri Lanka’s 229-run victory over Australia picking up ten wickets as well scoring a gutsy knock of 64 in the second innings of the second Test at the Galle, thus helping his side wrap up the three-match series with a game to go.
While Herath and debutant Lakshan Sandakan were the architects of Sri Lanka’s victory in the opening Test at Kandy, picking up 16 wickets between them, Mathews said that Perera had shown his true potential this time around.
"After having a quiet first Test, he backed his potential and came back really hard," Mathews said. "He was one bowler who the Australians found it really hard to score off, especially on this track."
"We talk a lot about Rangana Herath, but not as much about Dilruwan. But he's just become the fastest Sri Lankan to 50 Test wickets. When Murali aiya (Muttiah Muralitharan) was there, we didn't speak that much about Rangana, so I guess it's the same thing with Dilruwan.
“He's a silent hero. In the last match, he didn't bowl well, but he was very diligent and knows how to bowl in Galle. He worked very hard in training with the coaches. He's someone we can get a lot of profit from in the years to come."
Talking about his aggressive approach with the bat in both innings, having scored 54 from 65 balls in the first innings, before making 47 from 69 in the second, Mathews said that it is better to play your shots rather than just trying to survive in conditions like the one in Galle where the spinners were getting much purchase.
"When you're playing on extreme conditions you can't just block the cricket ball," he said. "You're eventually going to get out to short leg or lbw. You've got to start scoring runs. You've got to sweep and reverse sweep. Sometimes you're still going to make mistakes, but you'll find a way to score runs and upset the lines and lengths of the bowlers. We had to be scrappy."
Going into the series as clear underdogs despite playing at home, after their disastrous tour of England as well as being handicapped by a number of injuries to key personnel, Mathews expressed immense satisfaction at able to overpower Steven Smith’s side.
He also thanked the Sri Lankan cricket board and the fans for showing restraint in their criticism when the team was going through a bad phase and believes the support was crucial to the team’s turn-around in fortune in this series.
"Well, my team backed me all the way through, so special thanks to them. Also thanks to SLC for backing us right throughout and also the selectors,” Mathews said. “They said we'll get a bit of stick when we lose a few games, but if we do our processes right, we will along the way win a few games.
“To beat the No. 1 team is very satisfying. We also thank the fans for being there with us. It's never an easy task when you lose games to keep persevering. They kept believing in us and supporting us."