Ajantha Mendis, the Sri Lanka spinner who became the first bowler in Twenty20 International history to take six wickets, has said that he is in the process of developing a new delivery that he hopes to unveil in the near future.
Mendis bamboozled the Australia batting line-up in Monday's Twenty20, taking 6 for 16 off four overs as Sri Lanka successfully defended their total of 157 for 9 to win by eight runs and pocket the two-match series 2-0.
"I am developing a new ball but I haven't still tried it," Mendis said soon after being named Man of the Match. "Hopefully it will come out soon. I am very pleased to know that my effort is a world record. I didn't realize it was one. I really enjoyed what I did today and I am sure that it will give me confidence. I just wanted to bowl a good line and length and that worked off. The wicket also helped me a lot."
Mendis said that losing out on a place for the England one-day series was one reason why he was determined to succeed. "I worked extremely hard and put in lot of effort and when you work hard this is what happens. I worked extremely hard to get back into the team."
The game was slipping out of Sri Lanka's grasp when Mendis came on to bowl thanks to Shane Watson, who had bludgeoned 57 from 24 deliveries, and Mendis said his main intention was to curb the run-rate rather than take wickets. "I didn't want to give too many runs. We were trying to limit the runs more than pick up wickets. We had a plan and we bowled according to that plan. I mixed up my deliveries and I thought the catch Angelo Mathews helped take changed the complexion of the game."
Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain said he had every confidence in Mendis when he handed him the ball. "I knew the ball was going to turn and it was going to help him," Dilshan said. "He would be very handy for us throughout the ODI series."
Dilshan also said Mathews' effort on the boundary to dismiss David Warner was the turning point of the game. Mathews, fielding on the midwicket boundary, showed a remarkable piece of athleticism to catch a David Warner shot above his head, while running, and throw the ball back into play before he went over the boundary line for Mahela Jayawardene to complete the catch. Before Warner's dismissal Australia's chase was on track; they had reached 73 for 1 in seven overs.
"Once the catch was taken the momentum was back with us and our morale was very high," Dilshan said. "After getting off to a superb start, that catch put some pressure on the Australians." Dilshan, though, said there was still room for improvement for Sri Lanka in the field. "We spoke a lot about our fielding after the first Twenty20 win. I still believe that we can improve in certain areas. All our players are trying to improve and we are seeing the results. Australia are a very good fielding unit and if we can match their excellence on the field, the one-dayers will be a very good series."
Cameron White, Australia's Twenty20 captain, praised Mendis' performance in the second Twenty20 but thought things would get easier for the visitors in the ODI series because the team would be bolstered by more experienced players.
"Mendis showed tonight, he's a very good bowler," White said. "Clearly six wickets in a Twenty20 game for under six runs is an unbelievable effort. A couple of senior players coming back into the side, like Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, have seen a lot of Mendis so straight from the start they'll have a bit more experience. I think the more you get to face guys like that whom you haven't seen as much, it becomes easier."
Dilshan, however, said his side still had the upper hand going in to the ODIs. "The experience we gained in the two T20 matches has put us in a good mind frame. True, three senior players will be back in their side, with Ponting, Clarke and Michael Hussey joining the squad. But if we do the things that we do right, there's no reason why we shouldn't win the ODI series,"
On his part, Mendis said that he doesn't intend to make many changes for the upcoming five one-dayers. "I just want to bowl line and length and do the variations right. If I bowl well I know I can take wickets."