The national selectors have done their best to convince authorities in selecting Thisara Perera back into the ODI squad, but when the five-match series against India gets underway on Sunday, both the all-rounder and the selectors will be under tremendous pressure.
Perera became public enemy number-one after he dropped a dolly off Pakistan Captain Sarfraz Ahmed in the virtual quarter-final of Champions Trophy in Cardiff. Sarfraz went on to make a match-winning 61 not out to take Pakistan to the semi-finals. Pakistan went on to win the tournament beating arch-rivals India.
The inclusion of Thisara Perera into the Sri Lanka squad has been hotly debated both at Maitland Place and Reid Avenue and, unless he shows drastic improvement, application and commitment, the curtain is set to come down on his largely unfulfilled career.
Perera was overlooked for the home series against Zimbabwe and he made use of the opportunity to play T-20 cricket in England joining Gloucestershire.
With Gloucester, Perera did reasonably well although he wasn’t spectacular.
The authorities had been also impressed with the 24-year-old Lahiru Madushanaka. It was a close call between Perera and Maduhsanka, but Perera’s experience against the strong Indian outfit earned him a recall, but unless he delivers, the selectors are unlikely to persevere with him.
When Perera made his debut, he was one of the brightest talents to emerge with an ability to regularly clock 135kmph. He was also a clean striker of the ball and provided the team with the much-needed fire power in the death overs.
However, Perera’s impact has dipped drastically. Rarely does he touch 130kmph these days while the opposition has found him out with the short ball. As for fielding, the contest between him and Upul Tharanga is too tight to call as to who is the worst fielder in the team.
Perera has been often accused of not trying hard enough while paying less attention to fitness.
Former captain Angelo Mathews is said to have opposed Perera’s inclusion often questioning his commitment.
Perera was dropped after the home series against Australia last year and was overlooked for the away series in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia and was parachuted to the home series against Bangladesh in March this year.
Again, with little impact he has found himself back into the side, but the selectors are unlikely to show him the patience that they have showed before as they themselves are under tremendous pressure.