Sri Lankan Batsman Kusal Perera grew up watching Jayasuriya. As a teenager, he switched to batting left-handed to take after his idol. The rest is history, as the world has witnessed the rise of a genuinely talented wicket-keeper-batsman.
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Kusal Perera played his first Test match against India in August 2015. The keeper-batsman, who was considered a replacement for Sangakkara who had retired, justified his selection with innings of 56 and 70 in the match. He also took two catches and made a stumping. A year later, he got his first Test ton against Zimbabwe. In batting that was compared with Jayasuriya’s, the left-hander scored five fours in an over off Carl Mumba. Called to replace injured Dhamika Prasad in England in June 2016, Pereira scored 42 in the third Test at Lords. In June 2018, during the third Test against the West Indies, played at Barbados, an attempt to catch the ball resulted in an injury. However, Kusal paid scant attention to his injury as he steered Sri Lanka to victory on a wicket with an awkward bounce to help level the series. In a sensational run chase against South Africa in February 2019, Kusal played an unbeaten 153 to pull off an unlikely win for Sri Lanka, adding 78 runs for the last wicket with tail-ender Vishwa Fernando. In 18 Test matches, Kusal Perera has scored 934 runs at an average of 31.13 with two centuries and a top score of 153 not out.
Perera played his first T20I game against Australia in January 2013, thrashing 33 off 22 balls in a style reminding the one of Jayasuriya. At the end of the same year, he contributed 84 runs from 59 balls against Pakistan to help his team win after piling up a score of 211. In a pool match of the 2014 T20 World Cup, he blasted a match-winning 61 runs off 40 balls against South Africa. His 125 runs in the competition with a strike rate of 145.48 helped Sri Lanka win the title. In 2018, Kusal shared a 97-run partnership with skipper Thisara Perera in the Nidahas Trophy semi-final to help lift the team’s score from 41/5 to a respectable 159/7. In the process Kusal got to 1000 T20I runs, taking just 34 innings, which was a record. Recovered from an injury in April 2017, Perera played a match-winning knock of 77 off 55 balls against the West Indies, which granted him yet another MOM award. In 47 T20I matches, Kusal Perera has scored 1293 runs at an average of 28.10 with a top score of 84.
Perera played his first ODI match in January 2013 on a tour of Australia where he made 14 off 16 balls to help Sri Lanka achieve an eight-wicket win. A year later, he had his first ODI hundred against Bangladesh – his 106 off 124 balls won him the Man of the Match award. Showing a rather bad form, Perera was not considered for inclusion in the Sri Lanka squad for the 2015 World Cup. However, a back-door entry to the Cup by replacing injured Chandimal did not alleviate the gloom of Perera’s bad form. In July 2015, following the retirement of Sangakkara and Jayawardene, Perera was promoted up the order to open the innings with Dilshan against the visiting Pakistan team. In the second match of the series, Kusal equalled Jayasuriya’s record for the fastest ODI fifty in 17 balls. When Perera got out for 68 made off 25 balls he helped Sri Lanka to 92 in nine overs, a great foundation for a successful chase of 287. Chosen to represent Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup, Perera finished as the top run-scorer for his side garnering 273 runs in seven games. In 101 ODI matches, Kusal Perera has scored 2825 runs at an average of 31.04 with a top score of 135. He has also made 3 stumpings and taken 43 catches.
Perera was bought by Rajasthan Royals during the IPL 2013 auction. However, he played just two matches, scoring 14 runs. When Warner was banned for a year, following the infamous ball-tampering scandal, Sunrisers Hyderabad regarded Kusal Perera as a possible replacement. The offer was motivated by Perera’s great showing in the Nidahas Trophy. Nevertheless, Perera turned down the lucrative offer, choosing to play domestic cricket in attempt to regain his Test place.