Player Profile: Ajantha Mendis

Ajantha Mendis

Date of birth:

March 11, 1985

Teams Represented:

Sri Lanka, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sri Lanka Army, Wayamba

Batting style:

Right-hand bat

Bowling style:

Off break, Legbreak

Mendis’ full name, Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslo Mendis, is almost as long as his list of bowling options.

Mendis, the Emerging Player of the Year in 2008, is classified as a right-arm, slow medium bowler but the 25-year-old has an array of weapons at his disposal – batsmen are often bamboozled by his variety of deliveries, including googlies, flippers, leg-breaks and off-breaks.

In the 2007-08 season, Mendis was a batsman’s nightmare as he took 46 wickets at an average of 10.56 in six matches for Sri Lanka Army. A call-up to the Sri Lanka squad for the tour of West Indies in April 2008 was his reward.

After impressing on debut in the Caribbean, Mendis went from strength to strength. He developed a unique ‘carrom ball’ – a delivery released with a snap of his middle finger and he later ripped through an Indian batting line-up which had a reputation of playing spin with the minimum of fuss.

India were clueless against him in the Asia Cup final, where Mendis, in only his eighth international, accounted for six of their wickets for 13 runs. He claimed 17 wickets in the tournament, earning him the man-of-the-series award and a rapid promotion to the Test squad.

India were once again the unlucky recipients as Mendis recorded the best returns for a bowler in a three match-debut series, beating Alec Bedser’s effort by two.

He became the first Sri Lankan to take eight wickets on Test debut, and finished with 26 wickets, deceiving India’s batsmen to devastating effect.

Mendis’s career hasn’t been a complete bed of roses, as tragedy struck in March 2009. The bus that carried the Sri Lankan team to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, for the second Test against Pakistan, was fired at by masked gunmen. Seven of the on-board players were injured, including Mendis.

But Mendis put the traumatic experience behind him to bounce back in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 in England, finishing third highest wicket taker.

It’s clear he loves both the art of spin bowling and the shorter formats of the game – a potentially lethal combination in the Caribbean.

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3 comments on “Player Profile: Ajantha Mendis

  1. I agree… they should have kept Mendis in for the final – he was in form and clearly delivering what he needed to. Why take an unnecessary gamble with radical player swaps – and it’s not like the conditions or India’s selection of players would have inspired the change from Sri Lanka… ah well, I guess the same would have been said about Sreesanth had India not won, right?

    Mendis is a brilliant player and with the departure of Murali I think he’s the man to take things forward for Sri Lanka now.

  2. I agree Rami, it was quite an unnecessary gamble against India – Mendis was on form with excellent economy and should have been in the team. Guess it’s easy to say afterwards though.

  3. The Carrom Ball is quite an amazing creation in my opinion – Mendis is a great player and I missed him in the final!