Kusal Mendis
Kusal Mendis celebrates after completing his half-century against Bangladesh at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Fortune favours the brave and it is only just that Kusal Mendis, with a lion heart and an iron will, got his due. The right-hander is not cut out for the shortest format, he is more of a classical type to suit the Tests. But thrust into the deep end, after the retirement of legends like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Mendis was ready to take over the mantle.

“I did the best for the team. I did a lot of practice in Sri Lanka in the last six months. I know my job according to the team’s point of view and will do everything that is best for my team,” the 27-year-old told the official broadcasters during the prize presentation ceremony after his knock guided Sri Lanka past Bangladesh in a close contest and also place in the Super 4.

Luck favoured him the most on the day. Early in the innings, he was dropped and then he was recalled after being dismissed off a no ball, then a faint edge did not catch the attention of the Bangladesh wicketkeeper. “First six overs, I played my normal game and did that all through. I came back to bat again, and had a good plan and wanted to complete the game. I had a few chances.”

Product of schools cricket

Coming through the age groups, Mendis has been another product of Sri Lanka schools cricket, which is still strong and has been the breeding grounds for the young talents. He showcased his skills at an early age of 20, and then scoring a century against the Australians early in his Test career. But Twenty20 is different ball game altogether.

For Mendis, the task is even harder, he has to keep wickets. He has to focus on every ball minutely and give his inputs after reading the minds of the rival batters. But for now Mendis is enjoying his role. The bonding between Sri Lankan cricketers and the fans is quite strong and the players derive plenty of energy from the support group, home or away. “Thank You, Sri Lanka supporters,” he said and looking forward to the Super 4 clashes to keep the spirit of the fans high.