Sri Lanka pin Cup final hopes on Mendis

KARACHI, July 5, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka will look to their new spinning sensation Ajantha Mendis to defend their Asia Cup title against batting juggernauts India when the two teams meet in the final here on Sunday. The 23-year-old from Moratuwa has bowled impressively in a tournament dominated by batsmen, and after going wicketless in the first match took 5-22 against United Arab Emirates and 4-47 against Pakistan to lead his team into the final.

Sri Lanka rested him in the Super League match against India on Thursday after they had already qualified for the final.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene played down the hype around his unorthodox spinner, who has six different deliveries in his armoury.

“We are not going to put lot of pressure on the guy,” said Jayawardene of Mendis, who has been in the limelight since making his debut against the West Indies earlier this year.

“He (Mendis) has done what he is capable of doing, we are just going to give him the freedom to go out there and enjoy his first final playing for his country, that’s how we are going to treat him,” said Jayawardene.

Spinners Upul Chandana and Sanath Jayasuriya contributed to Sri Lanka’s 25-run win over India in the 2004 Asia Cup