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13 May 2021
Newly appointed Sri Lankan ODI skipper for the upcoming Bangladesh tour, Kusal Perera wants his side to play a fearless brand of cricket and make sure that the young bunch are completely unafraid. Kusal Perera who has made a name for himself across formats courtesy of his sublime hitting prowess was named the skipper of the One Day International side after several big names were dropped from the squad.
The likes of Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews were dropped from the squad. The Islanders have slipped to the eighth position in the latest T20I rankings and the team management has decided to refurbish the team and include some new faces. Given the aggressive approach, he takes on most occasions Perera will also like his team to play aggressive and fearless cricket.
"We have to fearless cricket to win matches," he said, a day after his appointment as a skipper was confirmed. "You can't be fearful about losing. If you're worried about your place, you aren't going to give 100%. What I'm going to tell the players is to go and give it everything. If we play fearlessly even when we are practicing, then you will be able to play the same way in a match. That's what I've told the team. If we are fearful, we will fall even further. I'm trying to build a culture where the players have a lot of confidence,” he further explained.
The southpaw has lacked the consistency but has already smashed some of the greatest knocks in world cricket. His knock of 153 in the final innings of a Test match against South Africa is regarded as one of the finest knocks since the inception of the game. He also smashed the second-fastest half-century in ODI’s when he achieved the feat in a mere 17 deliveries against Pakistan in 2015.
"I really like to play fearless cricket personally, and that's where my success has been. Whenever I've played with fear, it hasn't worked for me. I want everyone else to play like that. You can't guarantee that you will go right playing this way, but the chances of things going well are greater,” Perera said.
"But you have to practice well to instill that fearlessness. Because if you are 100% certain about the shot you're playing, you can play without fear. You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Where does the ball need to be for me to hit it? Will I get myself in trouble by hitting there? You need to have that understanding. If you're a bowler, you need to know which ball can get you a wicket, and which will help you bowl a dot. These things help you play fearlessly. As a fielding unit, you have to carry that same ethos as well, and I have big hopes for the upcoming Bangladesh series about our fielding,” the wicket-keeper batsman further added.
While Perera has shown glimpses of his class and brute force during his career but his overall record doesn’t justify the talent he posses. The southpaw after playing just 96 ODI innings has scored runs at an average of 31.04 and a strike rate of 92. Perera is optimistic of the fact that captaincy will shrug of well and help him get bigger personal scores.
"What the selectors told me when they appointed me was that I often get a 50 or a 60 and get out without getting to a 100. I accept that. If I score a hundred, the chances of winning the match go up. You can't get a 100 every game, but when you get a start, you need to make sure you convert. They expect me to take that responsibility,” Perera concluded.