Sunrisers Hyderabad’s left-handed all-rounder Thisara Perera played a match-winning knock of 57 from 32 deliveries to help his side open their account in the Champions League T20 2013 against Trinidad and Tobago. With four fours and four sixes, Perera was at his devastating best. However, there are chinks in his technique that need be worked around, writes Prakash Govindasreenivasan.
When Thisara Perera walked out to take guard in the game against Trinidad and Tobago, the Sunrisers Hyderabad were in a precarious position chasing a 161-run target. They were at 70 for three in the 11th over and the asking rate had shot up to nine runs an over. The Trinidad and Tobago bowlers had done exceptionally well in the first half of the innings to keep the run flow under check and mount the pressure on what is regarded as a fragile batting line-up.
The Southpaw has a few characteristics that is common with the marauding West Indian Chris Gayle. Like Gayle, Perera too has the power to clear the field with ease. However, the Sri Lankan’s inability to be as devastating on either side of the wicket has proven to be his Achilles heel so far. In his knock of 57 not out, 43 runs came on the leg-side.
There is a common trend in Perera’s batting. As long as he is being served with deliveries in the slot for him to smash it over long-on or deep mid-wicket — his favourite areas to score runs — he will survive and continue to turn matches on its head. In the game against Trinidad and Tobago too, there were way too many deliveries where he had the opportunity and enough time to swing his arms and dispatch the ball to the stands. Given the degree he can cover with one swing of the bat and the fact that he doesn’t hesitate to pick up deliveries from outside the off-stump to hit over long-on, life is tough for a right-arm pacer bowling to him. Most bowlers are often forced to come around the wicket in order to keep the ball well outside the off-stump.
However, that option reduces the margin of error significantly as any delivery bowled remotely close to Perera’s body will get the treatment. The fact that the ball will be angled into the left-hander will only help Perera’s cause as he will only have to guide the ball to the fence. The chances of inducing an outside edge is also minimised when the bowler comes from around the wicket, thereby reducing the risk factor for Perera.
The few deliveries where Perera was kept quiet in the match against Trinidad and Tobago were either bouncers, short-pitched or length deliveries bowled outside the off-stump. On most of these occasions, Perera still tried to play across the line and launch the ball on his leg-side, but in vain.
If one followed his batting in the 2013 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he scored 233 runs in 16 matches at a whopping strike rate of 142.94, they would notice a similar pattern wherein he took apart bowlers who gave him room on the leg side. Out of the 14 sixes he hit, only one was on the off-side. His habit of clearing the front leg and opening up his stance to hit any delivery on the leg side was evident. A close look at his knocks in the same season will also tell you that Perera has shown an aversion to change of pace. On a couple of occasions, he has failed to read the slower deliveries and perished in the process. He has also been susceptible against spin bowling on a few instances. In the encounter against Trinidad and Tobago, Perera faced four deliveries from Sunil Narine and was happy to take four singles from them. Statistics reveal that Perera has given himself some time and shown uncharacteristic patience while dealing with spinners.
Perera makes up for his inability to strike the ball on the off-side by being supremely devastating on the leg-side. Unless oppositions analyse that closely and strategise accordingly, any delivery bowled in the ‘Perera arc’ will be duly dispatched past the fence.