Thisara Perera is vital to Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene
Allrounder Thisara Perera has been pointed out by Mahela Jayawardene as Sri Lanka’s key man in their World Cup campaign. On the bouncy New Zealand pitch, Sri Lanka have struggled with the ball and also failed to bat well in the death overs and Jayawardene believes Thisara can alleviate those concerns.
Sri Lanka have struggled to penetrate with the ball on New Zealand's truer, bouncier surfaces, and have also been light on batting power at the death. Thisara is capable of alleviating those concerns, but has recently been underwhelming in both major disciplines. He played all seven bilateral matches against New Zealand, and collected four wickets and had a high-score of 20.
“No need to change the line up”
Thisara's form – 4 wickets in 7 matches and a high score of 20 with the bat – is a concern for the Lankans, but Jayawardene backed him to find his touch and become the ‘match-winner’ that he is.
Jayawardene said, “Thisara is a vital part of our team, and he still hasn't come right in New Zealand. If we can have Thisara batting well and bowling well, he's a match-winner. He has proven that with the amount of man-of-the-match awards he's won. Right now he's trying to find that form.”
Thisara, who was not picked to play against New Zealand in their opening match, was replaced by Dimuth Karunaratne, who played at an unfamiliar No. 5 role. Jayawardene warned his side against changing the established batting order to let Dimuth play in a more familiar position.
“I don't know if changing the line up is the solution. Dimuth has been given a role to play and he should have the confidence to do that. Lahiru Thirimanne going up the order did require a change, but if we try to patch that by moving batsmen around, we might have problems in a different area,” Jayawardene said.
“The top four or five guys are batting really well, so we've been getting good starts, which are important. In the middle order, I thought Jeevan Mendis was batting well in the lead-up games, and he's given us a little bit of balance.”
“We have the belief as we’ve handled tough situations”
He said that despite not getting the start they wanted, Sri Lanka can defy expectations and shine at this tournament if they win the crucial moments and games.
He said, “No one gives us any chance in any tournament. Even back home, people don't really rate us that high. We've come across that often, we've fought hard, and we've proven a lot of people wrong.
“We knew that playing these teams in these conditions was going to be tough. We will have our fair share of defeats - that's a given. It's not a tournament that you can completely dominate. But the idea is to win those crucial moments and crucial games and get to a position where we can strike.
“We know handling big tournaments is about not panicking. It's nothing crazy. It's about building on the things we've been doing for years. In the crunch games, you just have to hold everything together. You shouldn't put added pressure on yourself, because that restricts the way you play. We know we have handled tough situations in big finals, so that belief is there,” he concluded.