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Asked Tailenders to Just Hang in There – Perera

Thisara Perera (Image: AFP)

Thisara Perera (Image: AFP)

After nearly pulling off an incredible heist for Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Mount Maunganui, Thisara Perera said he was grateful to the coaching staff for giving him greater batting responsibility by pushing him up the order to No.7.

After nearly pulling off an incredible heist for Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Mount Maunganui, Thisara Perera said he was grateful to the coaching staff for giving him greater batting responsibility by pushing him up the order to No.7. Perera made a stunning 74-ball 140 to get Sri Lanka to within 22 runs of the target before becoming the last man to fall to a brilliant diving catch by Trent Boult off Matt Henry as Sri Lanka were bundled out for 298.

“I was trying for a victory rather than avenging the sixes from before,” Perera, who was adjudged Player of the Match said in the post-match presentation. “I am very proud of my effort as this is my first century and I had to take the responsibility throughout the innings. I asked the tailenders to please hang in there with me.

“Last eight years I’ve been batting at No. 8. Thanks to the coaching staff for pushing me up to No. 7. I should give them a present. I was not thinking anything. I had to take the responsibilty throughout. I told the Nuwan and Sandakan to just play five or six balls. I should thank Chandika Hathurusingha (head coach) and Thilan Samraweera (batting coach) – they were throwing throwing throwing to me. Credit goes to these two.”

Kiwi Skipper Kane Williamson the result delivered yet another series win, though he admitted to feeling nervous when Perera continued to successfully plunder runs in a run chase of 320 after Sri Lanka had been reduced to 203/8 at one stage.

“85 percent of the game was clinical from us,” he said. “Then, Thisara came out and played out of his skin and kept putting us under pressure. But it feels nice that we held onto our nerves and came out with a win. It is about guys going out there and performing a role for us.”

Williamson also praised all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, who made yet another telling contribution with a 37-ball 64 in his second game since returning from injury. Neesham had also made 47* in just 13 balls in the first ODI at the same venue. Williamson though did express concern at the number of catches the Kiwis dropped on the night, with several chances going missing.

“If we did hold our catches, we’d have reflected on it differently,” he said. “On top of that, Thisara kept putting us under pressure. We pride ourselves on our fielding and it’s something we need to move on quickly from before Nelson. It’s about guys going out and performing their roles. Needs to become that sort of a habit where we go out and keep the game moving forward as much as we can.

“Jimmy (Neesham) has been outstanding for us. His knocks have been vital in both the games.”
Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga, while praising Perera for his efforts, admitted that the lack of partnerships in the middle order hurt Sri Lanka’s chances in the game, after they were reduced to 128 for 7 after a cluster of quick wickets.

“I have always felt Thisara Perera is a match-winner and I’m very happy for him for the effort he made today,” he said. “But we needed middle-order partnerships which we missed. We can’t improve our skills overnight but mentally we need to do better.”