Oshada and Mendis damn the pundits | Sunday Observer

Oshada and Mendis damn the pundits

Man of the match Kusal Mendis (left), captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera the Man of the Series genuflect with their trophies
Man of the match Kusal Mendis (left), captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera the Man of the Series genuflect with their trophies

Sri Lanka’s cricket pundits including the current chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel were left groping in the dark after Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis took the team to an eight wicket win over South Africa in the second and final Test away from home turf on a fast-paced pitch at St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Sri Lanka’s Oshada Fernando walks off the pitch after victory (AFP)

Both Fernando and Mendis who hail from Moratuwa took Sri Lanka to safety and a historic win after resuming from an overnight 60 for 2 while needing 137 more runs for victory on the third day.

The two who both made big half centuries batted virtually untroubled and went after the bowlers like true professionals as the South Africans had no answer and merely waited for the batsmen to make a mistake.

In the 27-year old history of South African cricket since being re-admitted to the international fold after the dismantling of apartheid or white discrimination against blacks, not even India or Pakistan were able to win a Test series in the dark continent as Sri Lanka wrapped up the two-Test series 2-0.

But what was most revealing was that the pundits were putout of business and could be laughed at the next time they open their mouths to make a nonsensical statement that Sri Lanka needs to change its domestic tournaments or prepare fast tracks for the team to win overseas each time the team loses. Head selector Ashantha de Mel was one of them who in public utterances last month called on Sri Lanka to change its domestic structure.

Oshada Fernando was brought into the team after a rousing show during the concluded domestic inter club tournament where he smashed over a thousand runs in the Premier League while turning out for Chilaw Marians.

Fernando is a product of St. Sebastian’s College Moratuwa while Kusal Mendis hails from Prince of Wales College also in Moratuwa and had only their home-grown pride to bank on unlike past cricketers who had the luxury of playing in the English county scene but were never able to do anything victorious in South Africa.

Another home grown player to be part of the winning team without any overseas academy grooming was the left arm fast bowler Vishwa Fernando who is also a product of St. Sebastian’s College.

After featuring in an epic last wicket stand with Kusal Perera to ensure victory in the first Test against South Africa, Vishwa Fernando made a huge difference in the second Test after coming in as a replaced for the injured players.

He set the course when he clean bowled South Africa’s most accomplished batsman Hashim Amla for a first-ball duck after his previous delivery shattered the stumps of opener Dean Elgar for 6.

In the second innings too Fernando played a crucial part after Sri Lanka conceded South Africa a 68-run lead as he had the scalp of Elgar once again with just 10 runs on the board to raise the spirits of his team-mates.