Mendis returns in style
Spinner Ajantha Mendis celebrated his return to international cricket with a record-breaking haul in Sri Lanka's 82-run triumph over Zimbabwe in their World Twenty20 Group C fixture in Hambantota.
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Sidelined by a back injury, Mendis had not represented his country since January until Tuesday when he recorded figures of six for eight in four overs, including two maidens.
Bowling four of his victims and trapping the other two lbw, the off-spinner romped to the tournament and international T20 cricket's best figures, surpassing the five for six Pakistan seamer Umar Gul achieved against New Zealand at The Oval in 2009 and the six for 16 Mendis clinched against Australia in Pallekele last year.
"I am really happy. Playing cricket after all that time away from the game, I am really happy with my performance, and I will try my best in the coming matches," enthused Mendis, named man of the match for his haul.
Triumphant captain Mahela Jayawardene welcomed a job well done by his troops after the batsmen pushed the total to an impressive 182 for four on the back of Kumar Sangakkara's 44 and Jeevan Mendis' 43 not out before the bowlers restricted Zimbabwe to 100 all out.
"You can't take anything to granted. We had to make sure we played to our potential. It was a pretty good wicket, we just needed to get used to it a little bit. Our guys batted really well, and the bowlers then did a super job," added Jayawardene.
Defeated skipper Brendan Taylor was left to lament a shoddy day in the field in particular. Debutant opening batsman Dilshan Munaweera was afforded a couple of lifelines, with Malcom Waller dropping two catches, while a slew of overthrows, missed run-out chances and misfields lined the Sri Lankan innings.
"It is a tough pill to swallow. We are a better side than what we performed here. Sri Lanka are the favorites to win and we have to improve. We have played enough cricket to go back from this, rethink and come back a better side," concluded Taylor.
Zimbabwe will face South Africa on Thursday, while Sri Lanka's next match is also against the Proteas on Saturday.