Sri Lanka wait on Mendis fitness


by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka are hoping that in-form batsman Kusal Mendis will recover in time for their Friday’s must win clash against Bangladesh in the ongoing Nidahas Trophy tournament. The 23-year-old hobbled off the field after saving a boundary during Sri Lanka’s six wicket loss on Monday to India at RPS and has been treated for a quadriceps muscle strain. Mendis has been in good form having hit back to back half-centuries. He is the third highest run getter in the Nidahas Trophy.

Sri Lanka started off their campaign in positive style last week. After being set a record 175 run target by India in the curtain-raiser of the competition, the hosts won the opening encounter by five wickets. It was the highest run chase at RPS in T-20 Internationals. However, four days later, Sri Lanka’s bowlers conceded a record 215 runs as Bangladesh bounced back after losing their first game to India.

At the end of round one, all teams were on an equal footing with one win each. India moved past the other two opponents following their six wicket win against Sri Lanka on Monday. That makes Friday’s Sri Lanka versus Bangladesh clash a virtual semi-final.

Mendis is the fourth Sri Lankan player to pick up an injury this month. Prior to the start of the competition, captain Angelo Mathews (calf), all-rounder Asela Gunaratne (shoulder) and fast bowler Shehan Madushanka (hamstring) were all ruled out with injuries. On top of it, Dinesh Chandimal, the stand in captain was suspended for two games due to a slow over rate offense against Bangladesh.

For Monday’s game against India, Sri Lanka named fast bowler Suranga Lakmal in place of Chandimal although many would have expected a batsman as a straight swap. Thisara Perera, who captained the side in place of Chandimal explained the thinking behind.

"In the previous two matches we didn’t need the batsmen coming in at number seven or number eight. So we thought we had enough batsmen. Our batting had done well in the previous matches. We chased down a target of 175 and then posted 214. But today we couldn’t bat well," Perera said after Monday’s defeat.

"After the rain, we definitely needed another main bowler. Our game didn’t go to plan - that’s the main reason we lost. If we had posted 175 or 180, we could have been more competitive. We need to fix up a few issues ahead of our next game," Perera said.

Sri Lanka had got off to a terrific start with 53 runs coming off six overs of Power Play. They were 94 for two at the end of ten overs and should have doubled the score from thereon. But a middle order wobble saw them ending with just 152 and that was never going to test the strong Indian bating line-up.

"Kusal Mendis batted really well. It’s a very good wicket to bat and what we scored wasn’t sufficient to defend. We were 25 -30 runs short. While Kusal batted well, others didn’t execute the plans," Perera added.

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