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On This Day - February 16, 2019 - Kusal Perera's 153 Helps Sri Lanka Pull Off One of The Greatest Chases in Test History

On This Day - February 16, 2019 - Kusal Perera's 153 Helps Sri Lanka Pull Off One of The Greatest Chases in Test History

On This Day in Durban in 2019, Kusal Perera hammered a brilliant unbeaten 153 off just 200 deliveries to help Sri Lanka pull off one of the greatest chases in Test cricket history.

It was the series opener between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Durban. The home team had the advantage after the first innings of both the teams in a low scoring encounter. They set Sri Lanka 304 in the fourth innings for a highly unlikely victory. Sri Lanka had chased down a 300-plus total only thrice before in their Test history - all at home in Colombo. Two of these chases had come against Zimbabwe. Interestingly, the third one was against South Africa when Mahela Jayawardene hit a splendid hundred to help the home team chase down 352 with just one wicket in hand.

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Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne gave the hosts a solid start before Kagiso Rabada saw the back of the latter. Philander removed the other opener while Duanne dismissed Kusal Mendis to leave the home team in tatters at 52 for 3. The other Kusal joined Oshada Fernando and the pair took Sri Lanka to 110 before Steyn removed the latter and then got Dickwella in the same over. Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel now at 110 for 5. It was time for the Kusal Perera show!

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The left-hander took control and counter-attacked the South African attack. He put together a match-changing 96-run stand for the sixth-wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva. However, Sri Lanka lost three more wickets in quick succession and were staring at defeat at 226 for 9. Perera was unbeaten on 86 off 132 deliveries. He needed to step on the gear and win this single-handedly for the visitors. And then came one of the greatest performances in Test cricket history.

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Perera took some calculated risks and targeted Maharaj. He soon registered his second Test hundred. He farmed most of the strike only giving the last man, Vishwa Fernando the last couple of deliveries of the over to negotiate. Perera was in a different zone. He hammered Steyn and Rabada for three sixes in three consecutive overs. He took Sri Lanka to one of the greatest Test victories in history steering Rabada past wide first slip to the boundary. Sri Lanka had pulled off a stunning one-wicket victory.

Perera remained unbeaten on a magnificent 153 off just 200 deliveries with 12 fours and 5 sixes. The last wicket stand was worth 78 of which Fernando contributed just six!

Perera had taken Sri Lanka to a historic win against all odds at Durban scoring more than 50% of his team's runs in the fourth innings.

Sri Lanka went on to win the second Test too and record a historic series win in South Africa. They became the first Asian side to achieve the feat.

first published:February 16, 2021, 11:59 IST