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April 12, 2008
Ajantha Mendis' maiden one-day international performance has come in for praise from both the Sri Lankan and West Indian camps, with Dwayne Bravo expressing how difficult it was to pick the rookie spinner. Mendis bowled impressively to collect 3 for 39, flummoxing Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy with his crafty variations, as Sri Lanka narrowly failed to win the opening match of the three-game series.
"To be honest, when we saw his stats - after 19 first-class matches, he had 111 wickets at an average of 14.54 - we knew he had to be bowling something good," said Bravo, who won the Man-of-the-Match award. "[Ramnaresh] Sarwan had problems picking him, and from the time we saw this, most of the batsmen retreated to the dressing room, and had a close look at his hand on the TV monitor.
"I actually went and had a look at his hand on the computer, and it was still really difficult to pick him, but I found that once you are prepared to watch the ball closely, it is half the job done. He is a very good bowler, and we will have to go back to [the] drawing board to try to come up with a way to score off his bowling freely."
Sri Lanka's coach, Trevor Bayliss, felt it was a promising effort from Mendis and believed he could have a long career. "I could tell you about his variations if I knew what they were and even a lot of our guys struggle to know what he is doing with the ball," he said.
"The poise that he had in the first ODI - not just what he was bowling - to be able to keep a lid on things under pressure in one-day cricket is a very good sign. This has been the exceptional thing from my point of view. To be able to maintain his composure and do what he normally does was brilliant."
Bayliss said he was prepared to allow Mendis to experiment in the one-day format. "We just told him to go out there and do whatever he has done in the past. But it's how young players handle the pressure of international cricket that's critical, and he handled it very well.
"From my point of view, the higher up the ladder you go in this game, it's more of a mental thing. It's how you cope with pressure, and if something is working for him at one level, it's no reason why it cannot work at the next."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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