Kusal Perera, born on 17 August 1990, is a prominent Sri Lankan cricketer. He’s known for his prowess in T20Is as a key player for the Sri Lanka national cricket team. One of the most memorable moments in his career was when he played a heroic innings in 2019, scoring an astonishing 153 not out against South Africa during the first Test at Durban. This innings, in which he added 78 runs for the last wicket with Vishwa Fernando, was recognized as the second-best Test innings of the decade by Wisden in 2019. Kusal Perera also received the prestigious award for the best test performance from Cricinfo for the year 2019.
In May 2021, he assumed the role of captain for the Sri Lankan team, leading them in One Day Internationals (ODIs) against Bangladesh.
Personal life: Kusal Perera married his longtime partner Kalani on 3 March 2020 at the Water’s Edge hotel in Battaramulla.
Early Cricket: He began his cricket journey at Kottawa Dharmapala Maha Vidyalaya and later represented Royal College Colombo. Interestingly, Kusal initially batted right-handed but switched to become a left-handed batsman, inspired by the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer, Sanath Jayasuriya.
Domestic and T20 Career: Kusal made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut with the Rajasthan Royals in the 2013 season. He was even offered the opportunity to replace David Warner as the captain of the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2018 IPL season but declined to focus on domestic league matches in Sri Lanka and his Test return.
Known for his quick scoring ability and powerful hitting, Kusal Perera once scored 330 runs off 270 balls in a first-class match, setting a domestic record.
He has represented various domestic teams, including Dambulla, Kandy, Cumilla Warriors in the Bangladesh Premier League, and the Kandy Tuskers in the Lanka Premier League.
International Career: Kusal Perera made his One Day International (ODI) debut in January 2013 against Australia, and his T20I debut in the same series. His aggressive style of play drew comparisons to Sanath Jayasuriya.
He made his Test debut for Sri Lanka in August 2015 against India and showcased his batting talents with a half-century in his first innings.
Noteworthy Moments: Kusal Perera achieved his first T20I half-century in March 2013 during a match against Bangladesh and continued to excel in T20Is.
In February 2014, he scored his fourth T20I half-century against Bangladesh and played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s victory.
During the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, he scored 61 runs against South Africa, helping Sri Lanka win the match and eventually secure the T20I title.
He wasn’t initially selected for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup but was later included due to an injury to another player. However, Sri Lanka was eliminated in the quarter-finals.
After the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, Kusal became a permanent opening batsman for Sri Lanka in ODIs.
Injury Concerns: Kusal Perera faced various injury setbacks during his career. He retired hurt during an ODI match against India in 2017 due to a hamstring injury. He also suffered a side strain in early 2018 during the Bangladesh Tri-series.
False Doping Charge: Kusal Perera faced a doping scandal in 2015 when he initially tested positive for a banned substance. However, he was later cleared of the charges, with questions raised about the integrity of the testing process.
Ups and Downs: Kusal Perera has experienced ups and downs in his career. He replaced an injured player in the Sri Lanka Test squad and contributed to a drawn match against England in 2016. He scored his maiden Test century against Zimbabwe in October 2016.
In 2018, he faced injuries again, but his determined batting helped Sri Lanka win a Test match against the West Indies.
Leading Batting Lineup: Kusal Perera played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s ODI matches, scoring centuries and providing valuable contributions. He recorded his fourth ODI century in January 2019 against New Zealand.
During the second Test against Australia, he suffered a nasty blow to the helmet and retired hurt. However, he bounced back with a thrilling innings, scoring 153 not out against South Africa in the second Test in February 2019.
Kusal Perera was part of Sri Lanka’s squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup and finished as the team’s leading run-scorer.
ODI Captaincy: In May 2021, Kusal Perera was appointed as the captain of the Sri Lankan ODI team. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka achieved their first points in the ODI Super League points table with a commanding victory against Bangladesh.
Kusal Perera has continued to be a prominent figure in Sri Lankan cricket, contributing with both bat and leadership skills. He remains a key player for his country, showcasing his talent in various formats of the game, including T20Is and ODIs.