By Srian Obeyesekere
Basking in the reputation of giant pinch hitting finisher, Thisara Perera, the literal giant in size rose to gigantic heights wielding his willow like an acrobat in a rousing captain’s role in transforming the Jaffna Stallions in a 44-ball 97-run stellar act from a pathetic power play score of 40 for 4 wickets to a match conquering 218 for 7 in the day-night versus Dambulla Vikings in the Lanka Premier League match at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Sooriyawewa, Hambantota on Monday. Indeed, the burly left hander rose in stature to giant killing heights as his bat smote bowlers at will in his 97-run assault that sent the Dambulla Vikings packing to the sour end of defeat from what at one stage looked like Dasun Shanaka’s charges were on track to winning.
In ideally sporting chimes of the catch phrase, ‘Cometh the hour, Cometh the man’, Thisara Perera blew off the opposition in this fifth contest of the historic LPL, his run assault accentuated by 7 sixes and 8 boundaries. It was the crescendo to Jaffna Stallions leading the points table with 4 points from two successive wins on a faster net run rate of 1.8 to Colombo Kings 1.36 NRR following an equal number of 4 points from 2 wins.
It was a transformation of the 20-20 specialist in a reincarnating Man of the Match act truly befitting the fast and furious thunder of the short version that has come to transform and turn international cricket on its head. That the 31-year old Sri Lankan star rose phoenix like from a low profile that had bugged his batting did illustrate the electrifying power clout Thisara Perera is known to produce at any given time; the inherent destructive element that has propelled through thick and thin in yet winning the regard and esteem of the cricketing world that has continued to decorate his career as a mighty finisher. Taking strike at 64 for 5 would be deterring for lesser mortals, but there was Thisara launching into the accustomed as self belief in ability was to transform the game in shifting the balance in lightning time like Jack Robinson with the cascading of 147 runs in the final 10 overs illuminating the Jaffna Stallions skipper in his trade mark act that he his best known for.
It was a day that Dambulla Vikings would ultimately wilt with the target proving too much even for its dashing captain Dasun Shanaka, a match winning hero of a day ago, with his 35 and the highest score of 41 by Samit Patel not measuring to the desired equation.
JAFFNA STALLIONS 218/7 (20 Overs) RR: 10.9
(N.L.T.C. Perera 97, P.C. de Silva 29, P.W. H. de Silva 24, Shoaib Malik 23, S.R. Patel 2/26)
Did not bat: Usman Shainwari, D. Oliver.
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Avishka Fernando, 0.3 ov), 2-9 (Tom Moores, 1.2 ov), 3-24 (Minod Bhanuka, 3.2 ov), 4-36 (Dhananjaya de Silva, 4.4 ov), 5-64 (Shoaib Malik, 8.3 ov), 6-115 (Chaturanga de Silva, 13.5 ov), 7-170 (Wanindu Hasaranga, 17.3 ov)
DAMBULLA VIKINGS 152 (19.1 Overs) RR.7.93
(S.R. Patel 41, M.D. Shanaka 35, Anwar Ali 21, N. Dickwella 20, R.T.M. Mendis 10, Usman Shinwari 3/16, N.L.T.C. Perera2/23, B. Fernando 2/41)
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Niroshan Dickwella, 2.4 ov), 2-39 (Paul Stirling, 5.1 ov), 3-63 (Upul Tharanga, 8.3 ov), 4-89 (Samit Patel, 11.2 ov), 5-124 (Anwar Ali, 14.4 ov), 6-141 (Dasun Shanaka, 15.6 ov), 7-144 (Lahiru Madushanka, 16.3 ov), 8-151 (Ramesh Mendis, 17.5 ov), 9-152 (Malinda Pushpakumara, 18.4 ov), 10-152 (Lahiru Kumara, 19.1 ov)