Sri Lanka v India, 1st ODI, Dambulla August 18, 2008

Mendis not a permanent threat - Dhoni


Mahendra Singh Dhoni was among Ajantha Mendis' three victims © AFP
 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain, has said that Ajantha Mendis was an unusual bowler in comparison to Muttiah Muralitharan, but it's only a matter of time before batsmen are able to pick his variations easily. Mendis continued to trouble the Indians after picking up 3 for 21 off nine overs in Sri Lanka's easy eight-wicket win in the first one-dayer in Dambulla. Muralitharan too chipped in with three wickets to skittle India out for a paltry 146.

"With time batsmen will get used to playing him. Even Murali some seven-eight years back was really difficult," Dhoni said. "Everybody was talking about him. With time I think it will get a bit easier. Mendis is a bit more unusual than Murali. I have not seen any bowler like this.

"Mendis is difficult to pick because he is a very different bowler. Even if you pick him up, by the time you realise what the ball is it gets very late to play a big shot. But it is not only about playing. You have to rotate the strike because you don't want a bowler to end up ten overs for 20 runs.

"But if you see the way he has played the two games against us, even in the Asia Cup, he gave away just ten runs in six or eight overs. You need to take a few from him and a few from Murali and look to attack the others. You've got to have something on the board."

Dhoni emphasised that a good start was essential for his side to get to a substantial total. "We were off to a good start in the Asia Cup but then we lost quick wickets," Dhoni said. "After that when you are playing Mendis it's difficult. It gets a bit tough when you have to rotate the strike and also save the wicket if the bowler is as unusual as Mendis.

"Once you get used to the variations then it gets easy for the batsmen. The only option right now is to play more and more of him and that's the only way of getting better. You can see a thousand videos but it doesn't matter until you go out there and play him off the track from 20 yards."

Dhoni's counterpart Mahela Jayawardene, however warned his side of a backlash similar to that of India's victory in the second Test in Galle after a heavy innings defeat in Colombo.

"Definitely, they will come back strongly. They have a very good side and they have a lot of talented individual players who can change the match for them," Jayawardene said. "So we will make sure we will play the same brand of cricket that we played today."

Jayawardene said the absence of Virender Sehwag for the remainder of the series with a twisted ankle will hurt India. Sehwag was India's leading run-scorer in the Tests with 344 runs and his double-hundred shaped the victory in Galle.

"Virender is a big-game player. It's important for them to have him. But we are playing against India and not against individuals. That's what we did in the Test matches as well. He can come and do his job but our task is to make sure it won't happen."

Jayawardene, who scored an unbeaten 61 off 82 balls, said it was important he was able to finish the game off. "We knew it was going to be tough, the Indian fast bowlers came strongly and bowled at the good areas. When I was batting with Kumar [Sangakkara], I said 'let's bat the 15-20 overs, that's crucial.' Unfortunately, Kumar got out but I thought Chamara Kapugedera batted really well. So we need to keep this momentum going. It's important that we consistently put partnerships and score runs. That's where the difference would be."

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