Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni played me the best: Ajanta Mendis
Ajanta Mendis, right-arm mystery spinner from Sri Lanka whose mystery spin perplexed batsmen across the world during an astonishing spell of time between 2008 and 2011, before disappeared from the international fold as quickly as his rise, has told Mumbai Mirror that Indian batsmen MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag played his bowling the best.
“Of all the international batsmen I bowled to, MS Dhoni played me the best and so did Virender Sehwag. That Sehwag wouldn’t let us settle in. You couldn’t bowl one loose ball and hope to get away.”
In 2008, India’s tour of Sri Lanka Ajanta Mendis in his debut match took 8 wickets and Sri Lanka defeats India by 239 runs. Since then India went through nightmares as Mendis in three Tests bamboozled India by taking 26 wickets. He even outshines legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
He innovated ‘carrom ball’, which has been tried by many later, but Ravichandran Ashwin has been executing it quite effectively in international cricket.
India experience with the DRS during the 2008 tour, especially while facing Mendis’s bowling, is thought to be the reason why the BCCI is not open to accepting the system- such is the far-reaching effects of the exploits of this one-time hero.
But, Mendis a few years later Mendis did not find any place in Sri Lanka team. There is no mystery in his spin anymore. It is also a mystery when exactly the ‘mystery’ of Mendis was unravelled, but Sri Lankan fans point to a county season with Somerset in 2011 as the series when the decline began.
With special attention paid to TV replays of Mendis’ unorthodox bowling by batsmen all around the world, his balls were not unplayable anymore. He was also held guilty of trying too many variations. He had figures of 43.1-1-183-4 during a horrible spell against Warwickshire.
The mystery of finger spin
Currently, Mendis is recovering from back injury, and looking for a return to the Sri Lankan team. Mendis is his heydays accomplished some feats-6 for 16 against Australia and 6 for 8 against Zimbabwe- which could not break anybody since after his disappearance.
In the 1960s, Johnny Gleeson used to bowl finger spin. So, how did Mendis acquired the skill that Gleeson used to have, Mendis said, “They are natural, absolutely god-gifted? But I do train very hard to toughen them. I know that everything about my bowling stems from my fingers.”
“I must have a wicket-taking ball. My bowling must not be limited to the carrom ball. That’s why I am developing off-spin.
“One day I will return to the team, but I don’t think I am being missed much. Rangana (Herath) is doing such a tidy job.”
Mendis may come back in the international fold if could overpower injury and instill confidence in his mind, he can soon join the Sri Lankan dangerous spin department.