Birthday special: Kusal Mendis – Talented Sri Lankan batsman who is fast fading away

Born on February 2, 1995, Kusal Mendis rose to fame with his performances in the Sri Lankan school cricket set-up. The right-handed batsman has made a name for himself for his technique and an ability to play shots on both sides of the wicket. He captained the Sri Lankan team in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup 2014. Soon, he was expected to become the next big thing in Sri Lankan cricket. He made his debut for the national side in 2015 in a Test match against West Indies at home. It took him some time to get settled at the international level, but in 2016, the world saw the coming-of-age innings from Mendis.

Career highlights

Against Australia, he scored 176 runs in a Test innings at Pallekele in 2016. The knock not only secured him a place in the side, but also helped Sri Lanka beat the Aussies at home. The hosts won that series 3-0 and Mendis became a regular feature in all the three formats. However, something which bugged the selectors was his inconsistency.

His knock of 89 runs in a Champions Trophy 2017 match against India at the Oval in London made everyone stop and notice this young batsman. The knock helped his side surprisingly beat the strong Indian team. By then, his name in the Test side was confirmed. Earlier that year, he scored his highest Test score of 194 against Bangladesh in Galle. These few batting performances had made him a core of the side during the rebuilding phase. A lot of hopes of the Sri Lankan team was associated with the batsman. Since the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene, the team was looking for a solid batsman to take their place. However, Mendis’ inconsistency was making him fall behind those expectations.

As of 2021, the batsman is still with the Sri Lankan team but hasn’t really been scoring runs regularly. As a matter of fact, Sri Lanka’s team hasn’t been performing for a few years now, since the legends called time on their careers. In 47 Tests, he has scored 3022 runs at an average of 34.73, something which he would want to work on. The batsman has mediocre numbers in ODIs as well. He has scored 2167 runs in 76 matches at an average of 30.52. For someone who has been around the national team for the past four or five years, Mendis’ record doesn’t speak a lot. However, he is probably the most talented batsman in the national side, considering his technique and temperament.

But, his numbers don’t justify the amount of talent which the youngster possesses. As he turns 26, fans would hope to see him evolve a little more as a batsman. What we have seen of him are glimpses of batting talent, but one can only hope that he matures as a batsman in the upcoming years and learns to score runs more frequently.