Testing time for Ajantha Mendis

Ten hours and counting. Sri Lanka play India in the 1st ODI of a five match ODI series. India were in Sri Lanka just five months ago. Having lost the test series, India managed to beat the hosts in the ODI leg of the tour – winning the ODI series 3-2.

A point worth noting is the impact the pitches played in the overall outcome of the 2008 ODI series. The team batting second in Dambulla clearly had the upper hand. And at the RPS in Colombo the team batting first ruled the roost. Things will be no different on this occasion as well. The toss will play a crucial part in the outcome of the series.

Sri Lanka Cricket’s official curator Anurudda Polonowita has made it clear that he has had no time to prepare the wicket in Dambulla. In the past, even with plenty of time to prepare a wicket, SLC struggled to produce a good ODI track at the Dambulla venue. In 50 encounters teams have only managed to surpass 250 runs on 5 occasions. Dhoni’s team have already pondered on including four fast men. Having seen the wicket it appears that the Indians feel that it would assist the seamers.

Speaking to the media Mahendra Singh Dhoni has squashed claims of any worries against facing Ajantha Mendis.

"We did well against him in ODIs, so there is no need for us to worry too much about him or any individuals. Our boys are ready to face the challenges ahead", said Dhoni.

Not taking anything away from TM Dilshan’s brilliance with the bat; Sri Lanka’s recent successes in Pakistan was a collective team effort. Thushara and Kulasekara were brilliant with the new ball. And Kandamby and Sangakarra steadied the middle order. India will have more than just Mendis to contend with.

Ajantha Mendis’ last two tours have hardly been remarkable. It is left to see if the wickets in Bangladesh and Pakistan played any part in this, or if the batsman are now able to pick him off the hand. This series against India will be a testing one for Mendis. Home crowds will expect him to keep bamboozling the opposition, and India will look to get back at him. If anything this series will reflect the true ability of the mystery spinner.

Series Wickets Runs Overs
Sri Lanka in West Indies ODI Series, 2007/08 3 60 14.0
Asia Cup 2008 17 145 42.0
India in Sri Lanka ODI Series, 2008 13 152 43.3
Sri Lanka in Zimbabwe ODI Series, 2008/09 15 129 36.0
Tri-Nation Tournament in Bangladesh, 2008/09 7 76 21.5
Sri Lanka in Pakistan ODI Series, 2008/09 4 80 16.5

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