Thisara proud after ending wait for first Sri Lanka ton

Sri Lanka lost its ODI series with New Zealand, but Thisara Perera had plenty of reason to celebrate in defeat.

Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera's brilliant century went in vain.   -  Getty Images

Thisara Perera expressed his pride at ending his wait for a first international century in Sri Lanka's loss to New Zealand.

Sri Lanka lost the second one-day international, and consequently the three-match series, with New Zealand on Saturday by 21 runs in Mount Maunganui.

Having been set a target of 320 by the hosts, Sri Lanka slumped to 128-7, only for Thisara to set up a tense finish with a magnificent innings, hitting 13 sixes and eight fours in a 74-ball 140.

However, he did not find the support necessary to get Sri Lanka over the line as his dismissal at the hands of Matt Henry proved the final blow and the tourists were bowled out for 298.

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Yet Thisara's performance was still enough to earn him the Man of the Match award and he could not hide his delight afterwards, hailing a move up to number seven in the batting order that came late in 2017.

"Really proud of myself, because it's my first century. Last eight years I've been batting at number eight. Thanks to the coaching staff for pushing me up to number seven, I should give them a present," he said.

"Thisara played an unbelievable innings. I always feel he is a match-winning player and he almost did it for Sri Lanka. We are really happy for him. We needed to get a good middle-order partnership but we missed that and that is why we lost the match in this situation.

"In the first ODI we didn't use our variations much, but after that we realised we needed to do it. We have to prepare mentally for the situation and conditions," skipper Lasith Malinga said.

Despite winning the series, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson saw plenty for his side to improve on ahead of the finale in Nelson.

"Probably 85 per cent of that game, it was clinical from our guys. I thought 319 was a good score on a slightly worn wicket," he said.

"Perera played absolutely out of his skin. It was all sort of landing in one direction for a bit there. We all had a go [with dropped catches]. It was frustrating. If we did hold our catches, we'd have reflected on it differently.

"On top of that, Thisara kept putting us under pressure. We pride ourselves on our fielding and it's something we need to move on quickly from before Nelson.

"It's about guys going out and performing their roles. [It] needs to become that sort of a habit where we go out and keep the game moving forward as much as we can."

Praising Jimmy Neesham for his 37-ball 64, Williamson added: "Jimmy's played outstandingly well. On these sorts of surfaces, those 300-plus scores and 350-plus scores are important, you need a guy like Jimmy or Thisara coming out. This is sort of the new age of one-day cricket."

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