Thrust in the big boots of shouldering the captaincy mantle from out of the blue with next to no international experience at that level to fronting a match winning century from a defeatist beginning is certainly high stuff of a performer capable of riding the odds. This characteristic portrayed by Sri Lanka’s new ODI captain Kusal Janith Perera in coming from the to carrying his side to an emphatic 97-run win over Bangladesh did signify the hallmarks of a captain in the making ready to go the distance in his new role despite conceding the series by two losses.
At age 30, An out of the ordinary discovery from Royal College, who changed from a bowler to a batsman, and who broke to big time cricket from a right hander to a left hander self admittedly because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Master Master, Sanath Jayasuriya, had been quick to cement a reputation as a dare devil batsman in the pinch hitting mould.The medium built, stocky left hander with a conspicuous tracer bullet, blood shot trade mark mauler of the ball had come to be regarded as a lynchpin to Sri Lanka’s instant cricket campaign. What is more when he translated that ability to a whirlwind historic test match winning unbeaten century and a half, certainly Kusal Janith Perera had literally succeeded in walking the talk to emulating his school days hero Sanath Jayasuriya.
The sudden call that came his way now at age 30 to captain the Sri Lanka ODI side against Bangladesh has been a vindication of his breathtaking ability with the bat that has earned Kusal Janith greater recognition. The national selectors have taken a big U-Turn in axing former skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who had a pleasing record of 10 wins against 7 losses in getting his country back on track from a poor past despite a patchy batting record, and bestowing that responsibility on a gutty performer from whom they expect bigger things. The stated clarion call is to lead a virtual new look Sri Lankan outfit to new pastures accentuates on whipping up a tip top eleven, come the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in a departure from the old to the new where the national selectors have recognised the need to optimise potential youth finds.
Indeed, the new torch bearer has in that fiery baptism lost no time in rising from adversary to cutting the road for the future by marshaling his side in the final ODI that pointedly saw some necessary changes from the two lost games with the infusion of youth find Ramesh Mendis who did make his all-round ability count in that face saving triumph over the Bangladeshis.
If his previous five centuries came in altogether different climes as a player, his 120 in his last outing and his third in wearing the captaincy mantle was a personification of a game captain capable of coming good in tough situations. It is a step up to the challenges ahead to meeting the new demands.