Kusal Mendis a talented cricketer | Sunday Observer

Kusal Mendis a talented cricketer

Kusal Mendis
Kusal Mendis

Another former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer Kusal Mendis almost came up with a match winning performance as he has done on many occasions before. He was on the way to score a well deserved century and victory for Sri Lanka if not for that silly running between the wickets. He ran the first run too slow to start with and the England stumper noted that and pointed to the fielder to throw at the further end. For Mendis’ bad luck, the ball hit the wicket with a direct throw by Leach.

Until then Mendis and Roshen Silva were cruising along very well negotiating the spinners to the best of their ability. Even the bouncers sent by the English pacemen were treated dexterously hitting the occasional boundary. The pair had put on 102 runs for the sixth wicket and there was no hurry to take risks as there was one more day to go.

Mendis scored 86 runs off 129 balls and included a six and eight fours that could be described as the best performance by a Sri Lankan in the series.

Remember Mendis’ epic century that led Sri Lanka to victory over the strong Test team in the Australians at Pallekelle? This victory gave Sri Lanka the upper hand in the Test series against the nation that were on top in Test cricket. Mendis went on to be named as the man of the match in that Test match.

Another epic knock by Mendis that can be reminisced is the match winning knock against Bangladesh in a T/20 encounter in Dhaka. Batting first Bangladesh had scored a commanding 193 for 5 in 20 overs.

It appeared a daunting task for Sri Lanka to get to the target when a total of over 160 runs is a challenging one in T/20 format.

Opening the innings Mendis showed no mercy on the Bangladesh bowlers. He smashed 53 runs off just 27 deliveries with two sixes and eight boundaries to steer Sri Lanka to a six wickets win with 20 balls to spare. Mendis was named man of the match for his epic knock.

Kusal has scored 2239 runs from 32 Test matches with the highest score being 196 runs at an average of 36.11 runs per inning. He has scored 1386 runs from 54 ODIs with the highest score being 102 runs. His 16 T/20 matches has evolved 333 runs with a highest score of 70. He has also bowled in Tests and taken just one wicket off 78 deliveries.

Mendis has lavishly contributed with the willow during his school career at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa. His rich harvest during the 2012/13 season earned him the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 2013.

He became only the second Cambrian to win this award after Sahan Wijeratne who was judged as the winner in 2002.

Within a couple of years after being crowned as the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy cricketer of the year Mendis was picked to make his Test debut against the West Indies on October 2015.

Importantly, a few months later Mendis was picked to captain the Sri Lanka under-19 team for the Youth World Cup.

Kusal made his Sri Lanka ODI debut with a sparkling 51 off 59 deliveries inclusive of eight boundaries in Sri Lanka’s first ODI against Ireland in Dublin on June 2016. Since then, Mendis has been in the Sri Lanka team.

Mendis’ emergence was a blessing to the national team at a time when they were looking for a reliable top order batsman. He fitted in well after the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara at number three position.

The biggest moment in Mendis’ impressive Test career so far was when he scored a marathon innings of 194 runs in the first Test match against Bangladesh played in Galle.

He missed out in what would have been a dream double century that any young test batsman would like to have achieved. He fell short while attempting to reach the double with an unsuccessful attempt at six. Anyway his knock included four sixes and 19 boundaries. This masterpiece showed the qualities of a mature Test batsman though it was only his 15th Test match.

He also became only the third Sri Lankan to aggregate over 1,000 Test runs before completing 23 years of age, behind only Arjuna Ranatunga and Mahela Jayawardena.