Thisara Perera has been a journeyman in the Indian Premier League. The Sri Lankan all-rounder has played for Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, the defunct Kochi Tuskers and Mumbai Indians before finally landing up with Kings XI Punjab.
In this year’s IPL, Perera found no room in the playing XI with the likes of Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Mitchell Johnson and skipper George Bailey filling the four spots for the foreign players.
But with KXIP missing the services of Johnson and their highest wicket taker Sandeep Sharma, the Lankan was drafted in against Hobart Hurricanes in Punjab’s debut CLT20 match.
Perera didn’t disappoint, sending down three overs for a measly 17 runs and taking the crucial wickets of Ben Dunk and Aiden Blizzard.
Later, Perera was again called into service when KXIP almost made a mess chasing the target of 145.
Virender Shewag perished trying to cart the very first ball out of the field, caught by Cameron Boyce at third man. Despite the setback, KXIP had little to worry. After all it just gave Maxwell enough space and time to set himself up for the mayhem he has successfully carried out in IPL.
The Australian didn’t disappoint, racing to 43 off 25 balls. Maxwell, along with skipper George Bailey, looked set to take the team home but Evan Gulbis stepped accounted for Maxwell, making it tricky for the hosts. Perera (34 off 19 balls) and Bailey (25) then put together 57 runs in their unbeaten partnership to guide the team home.
Earlier, the KXIP bowlers did exceptionally well in restricting the Australian side. With a depleted bowling department, Punjab threw in rookie domestic bowler Anureet Singh along with likes of Akshar Patel and Karanveer Singh into the deep end. It was a surprise move as the hosts benched their most experienced bowler, Lakshmipathy Balaji.
The bowlers didn’t disappoint and managed to restrict the Hobart Hurricanes openers Ben Dunk and skipper Tim Paine. Patel, another of the Punjab domestic players who did well in IPL, provided the early breakthrough by accounting for Paine.
Hurricanes never got going despite a couple of brief partnerships. First, Ben Dunk, their highest scorer in the Big Bash League, provided the initial momentum with 26 off 25 balls along with Aiden Blizzard (27 off 18 balls).
But Perera provided breakthroughs in quick succession as Hurricanes laboured to 100 in 14.4 overs for the loss of four wickets. Just when it looked the team was all set for a sub-par total, Jonathan Wells and Travis Brit launched a counter-attack, adding 52 runs for the fifth wicket in five overs. Wells was run out for 28 off 18 while Brit made 28 off 21 balls.