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Shirin Sadikot in Bengaluru 09 April 2013 - 09:30pm IST

My batting has brought me thus far: Perera

He loves to hit it a mile but SRH all-rounder wants to pick all he can from Waqar and Steyn

He greets you with a genial smile and gets a little shy when talking about the greats of the game he’s sharing the dressing room with. But ask Thisara Perera about his own game and he exudes confidence reminiscing of someone like a Virender Sehwag. Lines like, “I never take pressure about anything in my life” and “Be it Tests, ODIs or T20s, I never change my style” tell you that.

The 24-year-old all-rounder from Sri Lanka is also capable of whacking the ball a mile. In the three matches he’s played in IPL 2013 so far, he already has scores of 30 (off 18 balls) and 40 (off 24 balls) – the latter coming in an away fixture against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

While his pyrotechnics couldn’t win the game for the Sunrisers, Perera has emerged as a key member of the team. Perera was part of Chennai Super Kings, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Mumbai Indians in the last three years respectively but played a grand total of seven games for them.

This year he’s happy to be in a team where he gets to be part of the on-field action. “Here there are not many overseas players around and that boosts my chances of making the Playing XI,” Perera told
iplt20.com.

“I need to be there on the field and don’t want to just warm the bench. I want to work hard in the nets knowing that I’ll be required to perform in the match. So, I’m very happy to join this team.

“I wasn’t following the auction since there was no live telecast in Sri Lanka. But my manager told me that I was going to go for huge money. I’m really happy to come join the Hyderabad team,” Perera, said when asked what it felt like when after a vigorous bid in the 2013 IPL Player Auction, SRH shelled out USD 650,000 for him.

While the Sri Lankan has been making headlines with his shot-making in this IPL, he started out as a pace bowler who could use the long handle to good effect. But for SRH, Perera bats at No.5 and he is glad to have worked hard on his batting.

“I was a bowler who could hit some big shots in the lower order. But then I decided to take my batting seriously and work hard on it. I never quite thought that I want to be labelled as an all-rounder but I always liked to play big shots.

“I think my stroke-making is the biggest reason why I’m here sitting in this dressing room right now. Since I can contribute with ball, bat and in the field, the teams think of me as a genuine all-rounder,” he said.

When asked whether his nippy bowling and attacking batting makes him best suited for the shortest format, Perera said nonchalantly, “I don’t know about that but be it Tests, ODIs or T20s, I never change my style. I like to bat the way I do best.”

The conversation eventually veered to the breathtaking Super Over finish between these very teams when they played in Hyderabad. Perera was out there batting along with Cameron White. And while the other players, viewers and those in the dugouts bit their nails out of tension, Perera wondered what all the fuss was about anyway.

“I batted in a super over against New Zealand in the last World Twenty20 and I scored nine runs in three balls. So, in the last match there was no pressure on me because I’d been in that situation before. Honestly, there’s nothing to be excited or serious about it. Super over is just another part of the match. I never take pressure in my life about anything,” said the cool cricketer.

Despite his batting exploits, Perera believes he is still primarily a bowler and knows he cannot afford to lose focus from that aspect of his game. And as long as he’s in the Sunrisers’ change room, he won’t. Certainly not with the likes of Waqar Younis (SRH’s bowling coach) and Dale Steyn around.

“Waqar Younis is doing a great job with us as a coach,” Perera said, sharing the most important thing he’s learning from one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time.

“He tells us a lot of how to bowl in death overs in T20s. He says you shouldn’t talk a lot between overs in the last few overs and make too many adjustments in the field. You just stick to your plans. We practice death overs bowling in every practice session and bowl with new and old ball.”

The young man has also made a note of what he wants to pick from currently the world’s number one fast bowler. “Dale Steyn is a very friendly man and I enjoy my time with him. I want to improve my back-of-a-length delivery and I want to learn that from Steyn.” 

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