Thisara Perera smashed 13 sixes in an astonishing display of power hitting that took Sri Lanka to the brink of a remarkable win over New Zealand yesterday in the second one-day international (ODI).
Perera was the last man out on 140 with Sri Lanka ending on 298 in 46.2 overs as a chastened New Zealand held on to win by 21 runs and clinch an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
The all-rounder came to the wicket at No. 7 with his team struggling at 121-5 after 25 overs in reply to New Zealand’s 319-7. Undaunted by a seemingly impossible position, he blasted his way to a century from 57 deliveries, beating his previous best ODI score of 80.
New Zealand were coasting to victory with Sri Lanka at 128-7 in the 27th over after Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 16 runs through the middle of its innings.
However, Perera expertly marshaled the Sri Lanka tail, farming the strike to continue an assault that the New Zealand bowlers appeared unable to counter.
He put on 75 in an eighth-wicket stand with captain Lasitha Malinga then added a further 95 for Sri Lanka’s last two wickets with tailenders Lakshan Sandakan and Nuwan Pradeep. Perera simply encouraged those batsmen to block out the bowlers until he could get back on strike and take up the contest again.
“First off I’m really proud of myself, because it’s my first century,” Perera said. “For the last eight years I’m batting No. 8 or No. 9, and if I’m batting No. 7 I can get more time at the crease, so I thank the coaching staff for trusting me.”
Perera’s onslaught was boosted by one of New Zealand’s worst fielding performances in recent years.
At least 10 chances went to ground from the usually safe hands of players such as Martin Guptill, Trent Boult, Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, although Boult took a good catch to end the match.
In the first innings, Guptill and Williamson were both out cheaply, while Colin Munro made 87 and Ross Taylor scored 90.
Jimmy Neesham struck 64 off 37 deliveries.
“Thisara came out and played out of his skin,” Williamson said. “Suddenly guys are under pressure to execute their skills with the wind factor here as well and a few fumbles.
“It was all leaning in one direction for a little while there, but it was good the guys could hold their nerve and come away with the win,” he said.
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