Mystic Mendis is latest Sri Lankan mould-breaker

NEW DELHI, July 8, 2008 (AFP) – As if Muttiah Muralitharan was not enough, Sri Lanka now have another formidable spinner in Ajantha Mendis, whose unique style is also breaking new ground. Muralitharan, with a record 735 Test wickets, has long flummoxed batsmen with his “doosra” delivery that spins away from right-handers instead of coming in like a conventional off-break.

Mendis is different again. Using an unusual grip with which he appears to squeeze the ball out of his fingers, the 23-year-old can bowl off-spin, leg-spin, googly, the top-spinner and the flipper.

His latest variation floored India in the Asia Cup final in Karachi on Sunday as he finished with a career-best 6-13 in eight overs to lead Sri Lanka to a 100-run victory.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the first to concede that Mendis was simply unplayable.

“We just could not read him and we knew he was a surprise bowler,” he said.

“You need to be there in the middle to understand what he bowls. It was tough to pick his deliveries. It is not that the batsmen played badly, they played expecting something and the ball did something else.”

India are hoping to pick up some tips on playing Men