Sri Lanka has appointed all-rounder Thisara Perera captain of the limited-overs side for the upcoming three-match ODI and T20 International series. Perera will take charge from opening batsman Upul Tharanga under whose captaincy Sri Lanka suffered three 5-0 whitewashes this year. Tharanga got the role earlier this year when Angelo Mathews stepped down from the post after a string of poor performances. Back then, Dinesh Chandimal was given the command of Test team while Tharanga was appointed the captain of the limited overs side.
Given Tharanga’s reserved nature, Sanath Jayasuriya’s decision to elevate his former opening partner as captain surprised many although he has been in prolific form this year having amassed over 800 runs in 22 ODIs at an average of 47 with two centuries and five half-centuries. Even though Tharanga was in an outstanding form with the bat, the team struggled under him. Not only was Sri Lanka whitewashed by South Africa, India and Pakistan this year, it also faces a threat of having to go through automatic qualification route for the 2019 World Cup. Tharanga also got into trouble twice due to slow over rates and was suspended.
Perera led the Sri Lankan team last month when Tharanga had opted out of the third and final T20I against Pakistan in Lahore. The manner in which Perera brought the side together during the T20 series seems to have impressed the selectors although an under-strength Sri Lankan side were whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan.
However, lengthy discussions were held before giving the role to Perera, with some selectors wanting Angelo Mathews back in the role. However, they decided against it as the former Sri Lankan captain has missed a lot of matches recently with injuries. The name of Dinesh Chandimal was also discussed, but the Test captain has struggled in recent ODIs having been surprisingly axed for the home series against Zimbabwe.
Perera has a fair experience of playing in India, thanks to his stints with various Indian Premier League sides. However, his leadership skills remain untested and his first challenge against Rohit Sharma-led Indian team, won’t be an easy one too.