There are four main contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award. Two of them come from Sri Lanka’s series levelling performance in the second One-Day International at Pallekele. Thisara Perera took six for 44 and Tillakaratne Dilshan scored an unbeaten 119 as the hosts fought back after a disappointing performance in the opening match.
Meanwhile, as England’s Test series against West Indies came to a soggy conclusion, there were a couple of moments of magic that lit up the fourth day at Edgbaston. Tino Best almost deserves the award for his celebrations upon reaching his 50 alone, while Denesh Ramdin clearly used his annoyance with one of the game’s greats to his advantage – something which rather strangely led to him being fined – by hitting a century.
Nonetheless, both of those performances came in a match that was certain to be a draw after the opening two days had been lost to rain, so it is from Pallekele that this week’s winner must come. And it is hard to look much further than Thisara Perera – a 23 year-old all-rounder from Colombo – when picking this week’s winner.
Of late, he has put in several notable performances in limited-overs cricket for Sri Lanka and did so again last weekend against Pakistan. His six for 44 was remarkable for the quality of the batsmen whose wicket he took. Bowling a brisk medium-pace, he followed up his brief cameo of 24 from 14 balls with the bat, by taking the scalps of the prized Pakistani quartet of Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal, before returning later in the innings to snuff out any possible counterattack.
His final analysis of 10-0-44-6 represented the sixth best by a Sri Lankan in One-Day Internationals and the best against Pakistan. After the match, he earnt the praise of his captain Mahela Jayawardene, who compared him to Shahid Afridi in the impact he can have on a match.
His One-Day International haul of 54 wickets at an average of 23.66 make for impressive reading, especially when allied with his 404 runs at a strike rate of over 112. Furthermore, national coach Graham Ford clearly sees a role for him in all formats, and is obviously prepared to overlook a Test bowling average of 71.71, saying, “With the talent he has got and the way he bowled [on Saturday], there’s no doubt he can be a regular Test player.”
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