Has Sri Lanka really found a new Sanath?

Kusal Jenith Perera not just reminds of great Sanath Jayasuriya with his aggression, but his batting style is also similar to great men.

Very few players manage to attract the spectators as well as critics from the beginning of their career. Kusal Jenith Perera, Sri Lanka’s new opener in shorter formats of the game, has not only impressed the whole cricketing world, but he also brought a new debate in Sri Lanka and outside : that his style of playing strokes is so similar to his country’s greatest intertainer Sanath Jayasuriya, that sometimes he just look like a clone of him.

Obviously, its an achievement for Kusal, who, at 22, has just played 7 odis and 2 two twenty-20 for Sri Lanka. More interestingly, he came in to the national team as a middle order batsman, whose first skill was to be a wicket keeper. But, just after 9 international games, his wicket keeping skills has been pushed back, and as a pure batsman he is regarded as a new ‘ Jayasuriya ’.

“ Not only the style, in which he plays his strokes are similar to Sanath, but the way he grips his bat, is also reminds of great men” said brian murgatroid, tv commentator, during the third odi in pallekelle. During that match, his pick up shot over bowler’s head for the six, was again a reminder of Sanath, according to many other cricket observers. Just like Sanath, he uses the bottom hand with great effect, while launching his Audacious shots. Moreover, it’s not just about technical similarities, but the manner, in which he attacks the bowlers, is looks exact to Sanath.

Interestingly, all the similarities with Sanath in his game, has came just recently. Ranjit Fernando, former Sri Lankan player and a popular commentator, says that we are seeing a new Kusal recently. “I had associated with him closely in past, and during that period, I never thought or observed that he plays like Sanath” he said during the third match against Bangladesh.

Ranjit Fernando’s observation is similar to many of those, who saw his batting in last year’s champions league in South Africa, as well. Playing for his domestic team Ruhana, he was looked like just an average batsman then, included in the team for his wicket keeping mainly. Though, he had the aggression in his batting even that time, but clearly not the strokes, he has now in his armory.

But, as he adopted the Audacious method from Sanath’s game, he has become a different player altogether. He plays for Ruhana, and a product of royal college Colombo, where his team mate Bhanuka Rajapaksha, had been considered as a future prospect for the national team, since long time ago. Today, Bhanuka is struggling even at domestic level, while Kusal Perera has become a household name in international circuit, within mere few months.

though, it’s not about aggression and Sanath-alike stroke play only. In his recent domestic matches, he has shown great hunger for big scores as well. During the ongoing premier league tournament, his last three scores were 203, 97 and record breaking 336. During his 275 balls 336, he became the first ever batsman to score a triple-century in domestic history of Sri Lanka cricket. The achievement itself shows that his game is not just about audacious strokes, but he knows, how to make big scores as well. 

That’s why; he is regarded as the ‘next big thing’ in Sri Lanka cricket. His senior opening partner Tilakratne Dilshan, with whom he already constructed two century partnerships, called him as a long term opener for the team. “He is aggressive, but at the same time he looks assured” dilshan said after the first match in Hombontota. Unlike Sanath, he prefers to play straight, and his defense looks more solid as well. He played all his domestic cricket as a middle order batsman, but for the national team, he has became a opener with great ease, simply because he has effective technique for it.

But, at the same time, let’s not forget that these are early days in his career. In next one year or so, oppositions will examine his technique and temperament from closest quarters. His true journey will start then. Till then, we should just enjoy his madness, he offers in has game. It’s too early to compare him with great Sanath, but yes, Sri Lanka cricket has found a new dasher for sure.

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