Thisara Perera crucial for Sri Lanka at  2019 World Cup: Thilan Samaraweera

Sri Lanka’s batting coach, the former Test speciliast Thilan Samaraweera, has endorsed allrounder Thisara Perera for the team’s campaign at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England, terming his bowling as particularly impressive and potentially pivotal in England give the uncertainty over Angelo Mathews’ abilities with the ball.

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“We had a lot of discussions, and we emphasised to Thisara how important he is to the 2019 World Cup,” said Samaraweera on Sunday following Sri Lanka’s defeat to South Africa in the first ODI. “I think you have to give a lot of credit to bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake also. He changed Thisara’s bowling approach. He was very slow to the crease before Rumesh came, and in the last seven months, we can see how much faster he is to the stumps. We had strong discussions, and sometimes disagreements. But Thisara is heading in the right direction at the moment.”

SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st ODI

Always known for his big-hitting skills, Perera has struggled for consistency with the bat and ball.  In 14 ODIs in 2017, he managed 11 wickets at 44 apiece with an economy rate of 6.51. In the same period, he averaged 18.25 with the bat at a strike-rate of 108.95.

In six ODIs this year, he averages 17.63 per each of his 11 wickets and his economy rate is a very impressive 4.85. With the bat, Perera averages 45.75 with a strike-rate of 156.41.

During the loss to South Africa in Dambulla, Perera, while batting at No 7, clubbed eight fours in his 30-ball 49 to help revive Sri Lanka’s innings from 36/5 to 128/6 when he was out. While it was not a significant innings given the result, Samaraweera was impressed.

“In the last six months he’s improved a lot as a batsman,” he said. “I gave a lot of space to him, and he’s getting there. The good thing is, after his dismissal he showed a lot of disappointment in the dressing room, because this was one of the best opportunities for him to get an ODI hundred.”