| PORT OF SPAIN, April 11
PORT OF SPAIN, April 11 Sri Lanka's success in
recent years has been built on the outstanding spin bowling of
Muttiah Muralitharan and now they appear to have produced
another slow-bowling talent capable of befuddling opposition
batsmen for years to come.
Ajantha Mendis took three wickets on his international
debut, a last-ball defeat by West Indies at the Queen's Park
Oval on Thursday, and he showed his full repertoire of
Mendis produced offbreaks, legbreaks, googlies, top-spinners
and flippers, often in the same over as he lived up to a
reputation gained through his impressive figures in Sri Lankan
first class cricket.
In 19 matches the 23-year-old has claimed 111 wickets at an
average of 14.54, all that against batsmen well used to facing
all manner of spin bowling.
"We have told him that all he has got to do is go out and do
what he has done in the past," said Sri Lanka coach Trevor
"Whatever has worked for him in the past, at whatever level
that same thing can work for him at the next level," he added.
"It was a pretty good debut effort. He could have a long
period in the game," he said.
On Thursday Mendis claimed his debut wicket when he trapped
West Indies skipper Chris Gayle lbw with a top spinner and then
bowled Darren Sammy with a similar, well disguised straight
He then kept his cool to have Jerome Taylor caught in the
deep a ball after the West Indian had thumped him for six.
But perhaps more impressive than his wickets was the way in
which he clearly had experienced international batsmen such as
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul struggling to work
out exactly what was being floated down towards them.
"To be honest when we saw his stats we knew he obviously had
to be bowling something good," said West Indies all-rounder
"Sarwan had trouble picking him and from that point most of
the batters went inside (to watch television) to watch his hand
"I actually went and had a look at him on the computer to
see exactly what he was doing. It is difficult to pick him but
once you watch him closely, he is a bit slow through the air so
you have time to adjust," he said.
"He bowls five or six different balls in an over with a
different action, you just have to concentrate on the ball that
is coming in and forget about the other four," said Bravo.
Bayliss was not surprised by the range of deliveries
produced by Mendis but he was impressed by the way he handled
his Sri Lanka debut.
"The poise he showed on his debut, it was not just what he
was bowling but also being able to keep a lid on that pressure
and do what he does normally, to deal with the pressure of
international cricket like that was a good sign," he said.
Mendis will face inevitable comparisons with Muralitharan,
the test cricket's top wicket-taker, but Bayliss is looking
forward to seeing them operating in tandem.
"Maybe one day, not too far down the line, we might have
those two bowling together. But let's not take anything away
from (Malinga) Bandera, our leg spinner -- on a wicket in the
sub continent who knows, we might play three spinners," he said.
(Editing by Clare Lovell)