Cricket

Sri Lankan Army proud of Mendis

Plaudits for spinner after he mows down Zimbabwe with best ever T20 bowling figures

Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis (C) is congratulated by his team mates after taking the wicket of Zimbabwe's Hamilton Masakadza during their Twenty20 World Cup cricket match in Hambantota September 18, 2012.
Image CreditREUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Colombo: Ajantha Mendis’ deadly spell against Zimbabwe on Tuesday night, when he took six wickets for eight runs at Hambantota — the best ever figures in international Twenty20 cricket — made the Sri Lankan Army very happy.

“Mendis is our man and he has made us proud,” remarked an army officer, who identified this reporter through the media accreditation tag hanging around his neck.

He also remarked that he had worked with Mendis in the army.

“It was the Sri Lankan Army that noticed Mendis’s talent and groomed him to be a top cricketer. In a match against the army’s under-23 team, Mendis produced a great spell and that was his turning point. The Sri Lankan Army gave him a job,” he said.

Mendis is said to be heavily obliged to the Sri Lankan Army as he got the job at a time when he needed it most. His father, who was the bread-winner for his family, died a week ago. Today Mendis serves the national team with wickets when they need it most.

Following his stellar show in the Asia Cup final in 2008, Mendis earned a promotion when he became a Sergeant and then a Second Lieutenant.

Mendis’s performance has also made Nagenahira Nagas, the franchise team that plays in Sri Lanka Premier League, very proud.

Varun Beverages Private Limited, the owners of this team, had snapped him up for the side.

Today Mendis occupies pride of place in the history of Twenty20 cricket, after producing the two best spells ever of bowling in the international game.

He bettered his best figures of 6 for 16 against Australia at Pallekele in August last year with Tuesday’s spell of 6 for 8 against Zimbabwe at Hambantota.

The best rate after Mendis’ in international Twenty20 history is Pakistan’s Umar Gul’s 5 for 6 against New Zealand at the Oval during the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup.