Kusal Mendis, aged just 23, exhibited a great appetite for runs in New Zealand series and backed that up with the requisite temperament and skill.
Since his debut in 2015, Mendis has shown a lot of promise and he’s only gotten better ever since. In a lot of ways, he will remember 2018 as a breakthrough year – he amassed 1023 runs from 12 matches at 46.50, comfortably his most productive year in the longest format.
A good chunk of those runs came in the recently concluded New Zealand series. He made noteworthy contributions in both games, his unbeaten 141 in the first Test helping Sri Lanka save the game from a dire position. His resilience was cut short at 67 in the second Test, and so big was his wicket to New Zealand’s march towards victory.
Mendis’ skipper Dinesh Chandimal was more than satisfied with the youngster’s progress and congratulated him on the milestone of 1000 runs in a calendar year.
“He thinks a lot about his game off the field from day to day, and he’s a player with a big future,” Chandimal said. “I’ve congratulated him on getting to 1000 runs, and that he did it at such a young age. That’s a big achievement. I hope he can play just as well going forward.
Sri Lanka won just four of the 12 Tests they played this year, including an overseas series win in Bangladesh and a 2-0 whitewash of South Africa at home. However, they still showed some all-round improvement, and Chandimal feels they’re on the right track. However, he rued the failure to seize key moments in the series against England, which ultimately caused them to suffer a whitewash at home.
“I think overall the Test team has done pretty well this year. The major regret is that we weren’t able to take the chances that we had to turn that England series around. But as a captain, I’m really happy about the style of cricket we played this year. There are big areas for improvement. We need to change those things and make sure the coming year is a good one.”