Perera received his maiden call-up into the national squad as an emergency replacement for Angelo Mathews during Sri Lanka’s tour of India in late 2009. In just his third match, he starred with both bat and ball to help Sri Lanka edge past India in Mirpur in Bangladesh.
Perera seemed to have reserved his best against India. He picked up his maiden five-wicket haul against the northern neighbours in Dambulla in 2010 and followed it up with another five-wicket haul in the successful conquest of Australia, later that year.
His success at the ODI level helped Perera cement his place in the team and got a maiden call-up for the Test tour to England. He made his debut in Cardiff but had to wait until the third Test to pick up his first victim in the form of Kevin Pietersen.
His attacking batting and more then useful bowling caught the attention of Chennai Super Kings in the 2010 auctions before subsequently moving onto Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Mumbai Indians. He was later snapped by Hyderabad for USD 675,000 at the 2013 auction in Chennai, following some heavy bidding. He claimed 19 wickets from 16 matches for SRH in the Indian T20 League 2013. He was purchased by Kings XI Punjab for 16 million in 2014 but was unable to play that season.
Another alumnus of the prestigious St. Joseph college in Colombo, Thisara’s all-round success comes as no surprise. A game-changer in the truest sense of the world, the 25-year- old has helped Sri Lanka mastermind a slew of come-from-behind victories. His lusty blows came to the fore during his 44-ball-69 against South Africa in Kimberley as the Emerald Islanders chased down their first 300 plus target against the Proteas. He was also on song in the 2012 home series against Pakistan, leading the bowling charts with 11 victims, including a hat-trick. The season also witnessed Thisara improve his credentials as a ‘finisher’. Add his acrobatic fielding to the mix, you obtain a potent package. Sri Lankan coach, Graham Ford, who was mighty impressed with Thisara, remarked that the latter’s approach often draws parallels with Lance Klusener.
Another significant match-winning act hauled in when Perera lifted his side to 180 from 67-8 to fashion a narrow victory thanks to a typically counter-punching and unconquered 80 against Bangladesh in February 2014.
Enjoying a promotion, ahead of the more experienced Angelo Mathews, he alongside Kumar Sangakkara applied the finishing touches to Sri Lanka’s fairytale T20 Cup title win two months later.
Punjab then roped in his wares for the seventh edition of the Indian T20 League. In stark contrast to his ODI career, his Test career is yet to take off even though he has displayed occasional flashes of brilliance like his 75 versus Pakistan in Pallekele.
Thisara was brilliant in the ODI series against England in May 2014. He performed well both in the T20Is and ODIs. He continued his good form against Pakistan as well. In the second ODI, he scored a rapid 65 and picked up three wickets to set-up a Sri Lankan win. He picked up four wickets in the final ODI. His all-round performance, which earned him the Man of the Series award, helped Sri Lanka seal a series victory.
Perera had a lukewarm 2015 World Cup campaign. He managed to pick up only 6 wickets in the tournament and was ineffective with the bat. Despite having a unwanted reputation of being consistently inconsistent, Thisara manages to find a spot in T20 leagues all around which was validated by him being picked up for the newly inducted franchise in the 2016 season of the IPL, Rising Pune SuperGiants. He also played a crucial role as a replacement for Dwayne Bravo in the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Renegades later in the season.
World Cup through the years
It wasn’t until the finals of 2011 that he came up with something significant with the bat – having contributions of 6, 11, 8 and 3 until that point, before a nine-ball cameo of 22* in
the final helped Sri Lanka post a strong-looking 274 on the board. It was with the ball that he was effective, picking up nine wickets in those four matches. But that wasn’t enough for him to hold onto his spot, getting dropped before returning as a replacement for the injured Angelo Mathews. In 2015, having gained the experience of being a
globetrotting T20 superstar, his World Cup campaign was a disappointment. Apart from one decent innings of 47 against Afghanistan, he managed only single digits in the other opportunities he got with the bat. His performance with the ball was just as underwhelming, picking up six wickets in six matches at a pretty unhealthy economy too. Now coming on the back of some stunning performances against the Kiwis and the small English grounds and the flat wickets suiting his style of play, 2019 could just be Perera’s year.