Kusal Mendis earns Aravinda de Silva’s praise after ton vs India | india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Kusal Mendis earns Aravinda de Silva’s praise after ton vs India

Kusal Mendis struck 110 off just 135 balls to lead Sri Lanka’s fightback after being asked to follow on by India on the third day of the second Test on Saturday. India lead the series 1-0.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 05, 2017 19:48 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis scored his third century in Test matches on Saturday.
Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis scored his third century in Test matches on Saturday.(Reuters)

During Sri Lanka batting stalwart Aravinda de Silva’s career, opposition bowlers dreaded bowling to him at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground track. A batsman who always looked to dominate despite his average build, Aravinda de Silva had an intimidating presence at the ground thanks to his powerful cut and pull shots.

This season has been a bit hard to take for Sri Lanka stalwarts like him with their team being pushed hard by all opposition. For the first time in the series against India, the master blaster made his presence felt at the ground. It seemed to fire up the home team batsmen and that reflected in their improved performance in the second half of the day as for the first time in the series, Sri Lanka batsmen dominated the Indian attack.

READ | India vs Sri Lanka: Kusal Mendis hits ton, hosts finally show resistance

Kusal’s counter

Leading the counter-attack was the 22-year-old rising star Kusal Mendis, who struck a blazing 110 off 135 balls on Saturday, the sort of dominating effort Aravinda de Silva was known for in his prime.

“Kusal is the best among the current lot. He has a great future in Sri Lankan cricket, but I feel he should not take unnecessary pressure, and continue to play freely,” Aravinda told the Hindustan Times as he was leaving the SSC after the third day’s play.

Marked out as the next big thing in Sri Lankan cricket, it was Mendis’ third century, the feature of it being the way he tamed R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a dry, turning surface.

READ | Kusal Mendis leads Sri Lanka’s grim fight vs India in Colombo with classy ton

Ashwin, who earlier in the day picked up his 26th five-wicket haul, was all praise for the youngster. “I thought Mendis batted beautifully. He put Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) off his length very quickly, kept on sweeping him, and he was lucky, he got away with it. But credit to him, he batted beautifully,” said Ashwin.

Different tactics

In contrast to the Indian batsmen who used their feet to dominate the spinners, Mendis played the cross-batted shots with good effect. Ashwin admitted the tactics forced the bowlers to change their length on occasion.

“It can be a bit challenging (to play cross-batted strokes). He (Mendis) did hit some good shots off some very, very good balls from the middle of the stumps. He could have put some good balls away for fours and hence the bowlers over-compensated and bowled a few short balls.”

READ | Ravichandran Ashwin overtakes Harbhajan Singh in most five-fors list for India

Excited at the prospect of testing himself against a good opponent, Ashwin said he was looking forward to have a different tactics the next time they face off.

“As a batsman who’s sweeping against me, I don’t really mind it, it gives me a good chance. But having seen him for the first time, probably the next time I will try and come in with a different plan.”