The country’s cricket legends and politicians lauded Perera, who has become a linchpin for the ailing national side since fighting off doping charges in 2016.
Former skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who had staunchly defended Perera when he was suspended in December 2015, called the performance at Kingsmead in Durban on Saturday “unreal”.
“What an amazing win,” Sangakkara said on Twitter. “One of the best if not THE best overseas win by (Sri Lanka). Kusal Janith Perera was unreal.”
Sangakkara stood by Perera when he was wrongfully accused of doping in 2015. The International Cricket Council lifted the suspension in 2016 and apologised for the botched testing.
What a beauty !!!! One of the best inings under presure. Showed intelligents and mental strength KJP and very proud of you. ??
— Mahela Jayawardena (@MahelaJay) February 16, 2019
Perera scored 67 in an unbroken last-wicket stand with Vishwa Fernando which gave his underdog team a sensational victory.
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also took to Twitter to hail the win.
Congratulations to our cricket team on snatching a victory from the jaws of defeat. Kusal Janith Perera makes mother Sri Lanka very proud today! Keep fighting!
— Maithripala Sirisena (@MaithripalaS) February 16, 2019
I have no words ! Boys made us sooo proud ! I told to have faith they have talent. Weldone ❤️ Sri Lanka ?? kusal u beauty and welldone boys the rest of the team and staff.
— Harin Fernando (@fernandoharin) February 16, 2019
Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996 and since has been plagued by management scandals, allegations of corruption and player squabbling.
They were swept 3-0 in a home Test series against England last year and were then beaten in Australia and New Zealand.