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India vs Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera’s turn to prove himself in game of musical chairs

Thisara Perera will be the seventh player to lead Sri Lanka when they play India in a three-match ODI series but the circumstances surrounding his ascendancy doesn’t inspire confidence ahead of the series.

cricket Updated: Dec 09, 2017 18:15 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
India vs Sri Lanka,Indian cricket team,Sri Lankan cricket team
Sri Lanka's captain Thisara Perera during their practice session on the eve of first ODI match against India at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala on Saturday. (PTI)

Playing under seven different captains in a year can say lot about a team. And if the seventh one is stopped at the airport while traveling for his maiden ODI series as skipper, the picture is bleak to say the least.

Thisara Perera had to go through that experience before coming to India, with reports saying the team was not ratified the country’s sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekera.

READ | Indian cricket team faces familiar rivals Sri Lanka under new captain Rohit Sharma

When Perera was asked on Saturday about that experience, Sri Lankan team’s manager Asnaka Gurusinha intervened.

“These are all Sri Lanka Cricket questions. Not a case of the sports minister being unhappy. We had four days of holidays and the process (of taking his permission) was missed. Nothing else. Same team we selected (was given permission to proceed). Nothing was changed. Small hiccup. It was due to four days as holidays,” was the manager’s answer.

Pressure scenario

It is in this situation that the 28-year-old allrounder, who has led Sri Lanka in T20s before, will take over the reins in ODIs. His first contest as ODI skipper will also be Sri Lanka’s last in 2017, in a format where they have not won a single series this year.

“They gave me the leadership and I will do my best. I don’t care about other things,” was Perera’ reaction, when asked about the constant change in leadership in Sri Lanka cricket.

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Dubious record

The last time the two teams faced it was a cleansweep for India. For Sri Lanka, it was the second among three 5-0 whitewashes that the former world champions faced this year. The other two came against South Africa and Pakistan.

Thisara’s own form has been inconsistent. He missed the series against Zimbabwe and South Africa, and in the previous ODI engagement against India, played just one match.

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The 125 ODI-veteran has got more than one wicket in only one match in 2017 and has not gone past 40 in any of the innings’ since 2017 Champions Trophy.

However, he will have fresh members in his squad, who were not part of the Test series. The most prominent names among those are batsman Kusal Perera, allrounder Asela Gunaratne and fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep.

While changing the personnel after repeated capitulations may seem the right way. Not all in the Sri Lanka team management is happy with constant change in squads.

Interim head coach Nic Pothas, who will make way for Chandika Hathurusingha in January, had earlier criticised the way players were not being given a longer run.

READ | Rohit Sharma betters Virat Kohli in ODIs, but task cut out as India captain

The performances of youngsters like Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshesn Silva and Niroshan Dickwella gave the Lankans a thin silver lining in the Test series against India. Whether that silver lining would broaden or not, may well decide Perera’s term in a musical chair like scenario in Sri Lanka’s captaincy job.

2017 list: SL ODI captains

January – vs South Africa (away) – Upul Tharanga – Lost 5-0 (5-match series)

March – vs Bangladesh (home) – Upul Tharanga – Draw 1-1 (3)

June-July - vs Zimbabwe (home) – Angelo Mathews – Lost 3-2 (5)

Aug-Sep – vs India (home) – Upul Tharanga/Chamara Kapugedara/Lasith Malinga – Lost 5-0 (5)

October – vs Pakistan (away) – Upul Tharanga – Lost 5-0 (5)

December – vs India (away) - Thisara Perera

Tests

Dinesh Chandimal and Rangana Herath were their captains in Tests

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 16:02 IST