New Delhi: It's unfortunate that Ajantha Mendis made his international debut in a one-day match where Shivnarine Chanderpaul smashed Chaminda Vaas for a four and a six to settle the issue in favour of the Windies. Taking 3/39 on debut, Mendis came into the limelight when he bowled Darren Sammy with a ball that the Lankan spinner should probably own the copyright to, the carom ball.
And it is only fair that he has rediscovered his magic once again after bagging six wickets against the Indians in a three-day match before Sri Lanka and India get ready for the battle of Galle. It must have been a case of de ja vu for Mendis who left Team India completely clueless when the two teams slug it out in the 2008 series when the Lankans had played hosts.
Playing in his debut series, the Lankan spinner from Moratuwa took 26 wickets at an average of 18.38 and a strike rate of 37.6, that too against a side which has a history of being comfortable against spin bowling. It would be an understatement to say that the Indians were at sea on that occasion. The legendary Shane Warne must be wondering which trick he missed during those long hard days against India when he could not manage a break in the Laxman-Dravid wall at the Eden Gardens in 2001.
Mendis is the definition of variety with off breaks, top spinners, flippers, leg breaks, googlies and of course the carom ball to his name. His recent slump in form can be attributed to too much cricket and one also can't rule out the role of technology that is used by coaches and experts to decipher mystery bowlers. His figures are still nothing short of impressive in all formats of the game.
It is also worth mentioning that the islanders have now got a promising bunch of spinners who can try to fill the gap left by the great Murali. Off Spinner Suraj Randiv has given a good account of himself so far. Ajantha’s namesake Jeevan Mendis the leg spinner has also done reasonably well in the limited opportunities that have come his way. They showed their mettle at the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies and the tournaments following that.
With Murali’s departure after the Galle test, Ajantha Mendis is all set to take charge of the Sri Lankan spin department with Randiv and Jeevan Mendis, the latter two should have no problems in playing second fiddle to him.