Perera was unreal: Sanga
As Sri Lanka bask in the glory of their thrilling victory against South Africa in Durban on Saturday, Kusal Perera’s 153 not out has earned allround praise .
Sri Lanka needed 78 runs for an unlikely win over South Africa when they lost their ninth wicket. But Vishwa Fernando held his own against the strong South African attack with Perera exploding at the other end.
The diminutive Sri Lankan paced his innings to perfection to steal a one-wicket win.
Former skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who had staunchly defended Perera when he was suspended in December 2015, called the performance at Kingsmead on Saturday “unreal”.
“What an amazing win,” Sangakkara tweeted. “One of the best if not THE best overseas win by (Sri Lanka). Kusal Janith Perera was unreal. Congratulations to the team and @CHathurusinghe keep believing and keep fighting. If you compete for long enough the opportunities to win come your way.
“KJP just scored what could be the greatest innings ever in an overseas run chase by a Sri Lankan batsman. Brings back memories of the brilliant hundred by @MahelaJay against @OfficialCSA in 2006 at The P Sara”.
Sangakkara stood by Perera when he was wrongfully accused of doping in 2015. The International Cricket Council lifted the suspension in 2016 and apologised for the botched testing.
Another former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena said on Twitter: “What a beauty! One of the best innings under pressure.” Jayawardena said Perera, who put on a last wicket partnership of 78 had shown “intelligence and mental strength”.
Former Sri Lanka pacer Chaminda Vaas tweeted: “Amazing batting display by @KusalJPerera Was lovely to watch him bat. Well done Guys! Keep up the good work”.
Angelo Mathews also praised Perera’s effort. “What a win by @OfficialSLC @IamDimuth well led. outstanding by @KusalJPerera abuldeniya and everybody chipped in…great team effort”.
Upul Tharanga also joined in praising the side. “Take a bow @KusalJPerera . What a outstanding victory… What a performance by Lasith Abuldeniya and Vishwa Fernando,” he tweeted.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also tweeted: “Did someone say test cricket is dying?? Sri Lanka!!! you beauty, take a bow Kusal Perera and well done to @IamDimuth for a historic win.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan hailed it as one of the greatest Test matches. “One of the greatest test matches in the recent past. #SAvSL Made for great viewing too.. Well done to both the teams,” Vaughan tweeted.
Perera had summed up him experience nicely after the match.
“In places like these [South Africa], it’s never going to be easy, like [it is] in Sri Lanka. These bowlers are all top five in the world. You never know what kinds of balls they are going to send at you. They don’t give you any room, and they have so much experience. There were few loose balls.
“In these couple of matches, I think I’ve copped six or seven blows to the head. In these tracks, if you’re not willing to wear balls on the body, you might as well not be batting,” Perera remarked.