Popularly known as KJP, Kusal Janith Perera was a right-handed batsman initially and converted himself to a left-handed batsman inspired by Sanath Jayasuriya. He is also known as ‘Podi Sana’ which means small Sanath. Typically, he is strong square of the wicket with the cut and the pull shot being his bread and butter.
Impressive returns in domestic cricket for Colts Cricket Club earned him a place in the Test side having made his ODI debut two years prior to that, having replaced the injured Kumar Sangakkara.
In 2015, KJP scored a half-century in just 17 balls against Pakistan at Pallekele to equal Jayasuriya’s record.
His career has been affected by injuries and other distractions. In 2015, he was sent home in disgrace after the International Cricket Council publicly said that he had failed a drug test. KJP maintained his innocence and after months of scrutiny, he was cleared by the ICC.
KJP rose to sudden fame following his unbeaten 153 in Durban to pull off a thrilling one-wicket win over South Africa. Chasing 304 runs to win, when Sri Lanka were reduced to 226 for nine, there was going to be only one winner. But KJP kept playing his shots and pulled off one of the greatest heists in Test cricket.
Two weeks later, he was forced to return home from the tour with a hamstring injury. Extensive medical tests on his lower body suggested that he was hurting his hamstring frequently due to his abrasive diving technique and the team’s medical staff suggested to the selectors that he should play as a wicketkeeper only.
KJP is one of the brightest prospects to emerge in recent times and his best is yet to come.
Perera will open the batting and he is expected to give explosive starts to his side.