In June last year, Ajantha Mendis came up with a performance against India, which shot him into international limelight. The 6/14 hasn’t been forgotten and a year later, a newer, more mysterious version of Mendis has a chance to claim World Cup glory against Pakistan on Sunday.
The WT20 was supposed to be a big test as his form wasn’t particularly impressive pre-Lahore, with teams starting to him and often playing him like a medium-pacer than a spinner.
But Mendis, through his recovery and rehab from the shrapnel wounds he sustained in the Lahore attack, and during the IPL has emphasized more on disguising his balls carefully. That tactic has paid dividend for Mendis, who is the leading wicket taker with 12 wickets.
Not just wickets, Mendis also performs the important role of keeping the runs down. He’s often comes into action post-powerplay and even if the opposition is going hammer and tongs, Mendis bowls that one over that quietens things. While Muttiah Muralitharan hasn’t been his true self in T20 cricket, this format and the world stage has given Mendis a rare opportunity to upstage him in this tournament. As he’s shown right through the WT20, his bowling still remains an unsolved mystery. Whether Pakistan will unlock it, we’ll know on Sunday.