Sri Lanka vs Australia, 2016: Graham Ford calls Kusal Mendis 'an amazing talent'
Highly impressed by Kusal Mendis’ counter-attacking 176 against the fiery Australians in the first Test at Pallekele, Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has called the 21-year-old an ‘amazing talent’. He also heaped praises on the right-hander’s steely temperament in adapting quickly to the international level.
Ford believed, “What can you say? It's one of the best innings I've ever seen. 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.”
Coming into bat at 6/2 with his team trailing by 80 runs in the second innings, Mendis resisted the tricky conditions and pulled Sri Lanka back into the contest. The striking part of his knock was a rapid scoring rate of 69 when no other batsmen from either side could reach 50 (until the end of day 4).
Ford noted, “He's batted at No. 3 in all formats across the last couple of months and shown wonderful maturity. 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.”
Making his Test debut in October 2015 against West Indies, the attacking batsman has improved in leaps and bounds to slot into the gaping hole left by the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
The South African felt, “Had you still had the Sangas and the Mahela Jayawardenes, Kusal would have ideally been blooded at No. 6 or 7. But without anybody really putting their hand up to grab that no. 3 spot, we thought he was the guy to get in and had the technique to handle it. Each time he went out there, he looked like he had real capabilities to become a world-class and match-winning No. 3. So, we decided to run with him and he's paid us back.”
However, the match is still tantalizingly poised with Australia requiring another 185 runs with seven wickets in hand on the final day.