Hosts Sri Lanka hope their magician spinner Ajantha Mendis recovers in time to face New Zealand in their opening Super Eights match at Pallekele on Thursday.
The 25-year-old spinner took 6-8 against Zimbabwe — the best figures in all Twenty20 cricket — in a group D match before a side strain ruled him out of his team’s second outing, against South Africa at Hambantota. Team manager Charith Senanayake said Mendis’s progress will be monitored, while coach Graham Ford feared it would be a big blow if Mendis fails to recover. “With the way he bowled and the X-factor he brings, it would be a big blow,” said Ford.
“In T20 cricket you want guys who can win matches on their own and he’s one of those guys,” said Ford of Mendis, who only returned to international cricket during this World Twenty20 after an eight month injury lay-off.
But Ford insisted Sri Lanka have bowlers to make up for Mendis’s absence. “We have a number of quality spinners, fortunately, so if Ajantha can’t play we have very capable back up,” said Ford of the squad which also have spinners Rangana Herath and uncapped Akila Dananjaya.
Ford hinted Dananjaya might play in case Mendis doesn’t recover in time.
“He’s certainly very close to playing. He was probably going to play against South Africa and then the game got reduced and there was the chance he would’ve been bowling with a wet ball,” said Ford of the 18-year-old, selected in the squad on the recommendations of skipper Mahela Jayawardene.
Bangladesh didn’t play their best: Rahim
Disappointed Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said his team did not play at their best during their freefall out of the World Twenty20, following an eight wicket defeat against Pakistan.
Bangladesh failed to capitalise on a brilliant 84 by Shakib Al Hasan — the highest individual score by a Bangladeshi batsman in all Twenty20 cricket — which lifted them to a challenging 175-6 at Pallekele stadium on Tuesday.
Pakistan successfully chased the target on the back of a career best 72 by Imran Nazir and 45 by skipper Mohammad Hafeez to advance to the Super Eights round. This becomes Bangladesh’s second first-round exit from a major event in a year following their failure in the 50-over World Cup at home — which Rahim said were disappointing.