Kusal Mendis’s magnificent innings of 176 against Australia in the first Test has been garnering praise from all around the world and the latest person to heap praise on the batsman is Sri Lanka’s head coach Graham Ford.
Hailing the terrific innings, Ford admitted that the innings is one of the best innings he has ever seen. The Sri Lankan coach revealed that the batsman had a plan to handle every single Australian bowler on a track, where other batsmen were struggling to even time the ball.
“What can you say? It’s one of the best innings I’ve ever seen,” Ford said on Friday (July 29). “He seemed to have a plan – and option – against all the bowlers. He showed real composure. The odd one did explode and turn on him but he didn’t bother about the previous delivery. He just focused on the next ball and got on with the job. He is an amazing talent. He works really hard and really loves the game.”
After conceding a lead of 86 runs in the first innings, Sri Lanka were in a tough spot. However, Mendis’ brilliant knock helped the hosts to take the driver’s seat in the match. Sri Lanka posted 353 runs in the second innings, setting the visitors a target of 268 on a tough pitch. The hosts further consolidated their position by reducing Australia 83 for 3 by the end of fourth day’s play. With Australia still needing 185 runs, the Sri Lankan spinners would back themselves to clinch the match on the final day.
“He’s batted at no. 3 in all formats across the last couple of months, and shown wonderful maturity,” Ford said. “He’s shown signs each time of the possibility of making big scores. There have been really exciting cameos each time, but fortunately now he’s got one of those big innings under his belt, it will hopefully lead to a lot more.
“He also just seems an extremely relaxed young man. Nothing really fazes him. He enjoys playing and he can’t wait to get out there and bat. Doesn’t seem to show any signs of nerves. He plays positively and plays his shots. He went to his hundred with a six – no nervous nineties. He definitely puts a lot of thought into it. He works hard. But there’re no signs of him being too bothered, or worried about failure, which is quite a nice way of going about his business.”