Dilruwan Perera happy despite missing out on debut ton

Sri Lanka new-boy says his first class experience helped him see off Pakistan bowlers

By K.R. NayarChief Cricket Writer
13:15 January 20, 2014
Dilruwan Perera

Sharjah: Dilruwan Perera — a player who had waited many years for his Test debut — suffered a sad end to a gritty knock on Friday. The No 8 batsman was on the brink of becoming the first Sri Lankan to score a century on debut on foreign soil, but he fell five runs short against Pakistan at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

However, Perera had still helped Sri Lanka into a strong position at the end of day two of third Test and, answering a query from Gulf News about how disappointed he was at missing the landmark, Perera said: “I am very happy that I could score 95 runs and it is disappointing I missed a century. I will now be happy with the achievement of becoming the highest scorer on debut abroad and be happy about what I got.”

Big challenge

The 31-year-old fully utilised his delayed chance to play Test cricket and said he was not disappointed that his opportunity has come later than most.

“I am glad that I could muster enough experience from domestic cricket so that when I get into international cricket I can take the chance,” he said. “It is a very good experience to have played over 10 years in first-class cricket. That helped me to play a Test match like this here.

“Angie [captain Angelo Mathews] told me to stay at the crease and that the two of us should try and extend our score. So I tried to stay at the wicket as long as possible.”

Perera was understandably disappointed at the shot that led to him getting out. “I didn’t expect to play that shot,” he said. “That was the only pull shot I played against the fast bowling.

“Even though I came in as a bowler, I knew that I had to do my best as a batsman when I walked to the crease. The situation demanded that I bat well.”

For Perera, playing the top Pakistan spinners was a big challenge. “I knew that they are world-class spinners and we are all prepared for the challenges they posed. We batted well and that is why we scored so many runs.

“The wicket is still a little hard to score on. Our plan was to stay at the crease and get a good total. The pitch will change more as more overs are bowled.”

Pakistan pacer Junaid Khan, who bowled well to take three wickets, is hoping his team can still get back into the game. “We will try and bat really well in the next two days,” he said. “The wicket is very flat and, if we can get a good score in the first innings, we can put them under pressure in their second innings.

“I am not expecting the wicket to change drastically and so our immediate task is to bat very well.”