Sri Lanka’s Mendis sets tongues wagging on ODI debut

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, April 11, 2008 (AFP) – Tougher days surely lie ahead, but Ajantha Mendis appears to be a spin bowler with a bright future based on the evidence of his One-day International debut for Sri Lanka against West Indies on Thursday at Queen’s Park Oval. The 23-year-old from Moratuwa bowled impressively to collect three wickets for 39 runs from his quota of 10 overs, as Sri Lanka narrowly failed to win the first of their three ODIs against Chris Gayle’s side.

It brought to mind Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lanka off-spin bowling legend, when he first stepped onto the international scene with his freakish bowling action.

Mendis trapped Gayle lbw with a delivery that went straight on, bamboozled Darren Sammy with a flipper that totally squared up the batsman and skidded through to hit the top of off-stump, before holding his nerve after Jerome Taylor clubbed him for six, tossing the next ball up having caught on the long-on boundary.

Even Ramnaresh Sarwan appeared clueless at times to what Mendis was delivering, and at one stage, after being deceived by the flight and the turn of a delivery, the West Indies vice-captain looked quizzically at the young spinner with an expression that seemed to suggest “what freak of nature have Sri Lanka unear