Sri Lanka’s young batting prodigy Kusal Mendis became only the second player to score 1000 Test runs for the calendar year and said he had been targetting the milestone.
“I’m really happy, and I did have that target in mind,” Mendis revealed to reporters in New Zealand.
“In the first few matches of the year I didn’t have that [record] in my head but, later on, after I played a few games and scored a few runs, then I became pretty intent on getting to 1000 runs.
“I’m really glad I was able to do it at 23 and I had challenged myself to get there in this last game.”
The 23-year-old is the youngest player in more than a decade to surpass 1000 runs in a year, and he sits in second place behind India’s Virat Kohli in the list of top run-scorers in Test cricket in 2018.
Mendis, who had been axed from the Test side last year by the now-sacked selection panel headed by Graeme Labrooy, fought his way back into the side and played in all of Sri Lanka’s 12 Tests in 2018, facing 23 innings and scoring 1023 runs at an impressive average of 46.50, while the Indian captain compiled 1322 runs at 55.08 from 24 innings.
With a highest score of 196 against Bangladesh, which happens to be Mendis’s career-best, the young Sri Lankan top-order bat produced hundreds against New Zealand in Wellington and West Indies in Port of Spain, in addition to four half-centuries he made in the year.
Mendis made his mark in international cricket when he sparked a remarkable fightback against Australia in 2016 with 176 in the Pallekele Test that Sri Lanka went on to win, despite the rest of their batting line-up failing miserably.
“I saw Kusal Mendis, the way he batted against the mighty Australian attack last year was fabulous to watch,” Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara reminisced in an interview in 2017.
Sangakara raved about Mendis’s innings and added it was a performance he “couldn’t dream of doing at that age.”
Since making his Test debut in 2015, Mendis has played 33 Tests and has made six centuries and seven half-centuries at 37.80.