Kusal Perera on Saturday played a historic knock as he pulled off a near-impossible win against South Africa in the first Test. His sensational knock of 153 in 200 balls helped Sri Lanka defeat South Africa by one wicket.
Sri Lanka needed 78 runs but when the visitors lost their ninth wicket reducing them to 226/9, no one expected them to save the match, let alone win it. However, Perera was waiting to script a historic partnership with Vishwa Fernando for the final wicket to take his side past the finishing line. The duo added exactly 78 runs as Sri Lanka defeated South Africa at home in Durban by one wicket. Of their 78-run partnership, Kusal scored contributed with 72 runs.
Reacting to his historic performance, Perera said, “I am bit tired now. I don’t know what to say. The lower order supported well. I believed myself in that time, and we did it. Still I am thinking I did my part. This is really special win for us. We did a lot of homework, a lot of hard work.”
As expected, Perera has become a new cricketing sensation as legends from the game both in Sri Lanka and abroad have begun showering praises on the new kid on the block. Former Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardena tweeted, “What a beauty !!!! One of the best inings under presure. Showed intelligents and mental strength KJP and very proud of you.”
West Indies bowling legend Ian Bishop tweeted, “Well played Kusal Perera and @OfficialSLC 👏🏻👏🏻that was a knock for the ages. Gripping test cricket. Gosh I hope test cricket continues to be this good all year as we’ve seen in the last three weeks.”
Another former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara wrote, “What an amazing win. One of the best if not THE best overseas win by @OfficialSLC Kusal Janith Perera was unreal. Congratulations to the team and @CHathurusinghe keep believing and keep fighting. If you compete for long enough the opportunities to win come your way.”
Back in India, Chhattisgarh minister TS Singh Deo tweeted, “Kusal Perera today redefined test cricket with his resilience and determination! Just when you thought the gentleman’s game was lost in the blitzkrieg of fast paced action, here’s an innings showing that none can match up to the class of Tests!Take a bow,you superhuman!”
Noted cricket journalist Ayaz Memon wrote, “Unbelievable, just unbelievable! Sri Lanka square series winning second Test by 1 wicket, last pair adding 84 runs against Steyn, Philander, Rabada, Oliver, Maharaj. Take a bow Kusal Perera, your knock (153 n.o) will rate among the finest in cricket history.”
The last time any player, who came close to playing a similar knock was Brian Lara in 1999, when his knock of 153 had enabled West Indies to pull off a one-wicket victory against South Africa. However, unlike Perera, Lara only needed nine more runs then when the West Indies had lost their 9th wicket.
Here are some more reactions:
Kusal Perera !!!! WOW …. One of the greatest Test innings of all time …..
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 16, 2019
Has to be one of the all time great innings that from Kusal Perera! Great for him, great for Test cricket! Wow! What a result!
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) February 16, 2019
Kusal Perera (153 not out and adding 78* for the tenth wicket Vishwa Fernando) helps Sri Lanka to a one-wicket win over South Africa.
In the top ten greatest Test innings ever played.
— John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) February 16, 2019
That may be THE GREATEST Test innings by a Sri Lankan ever.
Rockstar attack to face down. Impossible odds. Fourth innings. Away from home. Batting with the tail.
Belief. Determination. Skill. Smarts. Those ridiculous sixes.
It ticks every single box.
— Andrew Fidel Fernando (@afidelf) February 16, 2019
Kusal Perera’s innings the best since Lara’s chase at Barbados in 1999? Coincidentally, that was also 153 not out. Also, made just two weeks after having his helmet smashed in at Canberra. #SAvSL
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) February 16, 2019