HAMBANTOTA: South Africa skipper AB de Villiers said his batsmen will put Sri Lanka’s magician spinner Ajantha Mendis under pressure when the two teams meet in Hambantota today.
Mendis, 27, sounded a warning to all batsmen by picking up six for eight – the best figures in all Twenty20 cricket – to crush Zimbabwe in the opening match of the World Twenty20 on Tuesday and promises further destruction. But de Villiers said his team will be ready for the mystery spinner.
“Mendis is a world-class bowler,” said the South African captain. “When he’s going well he will always pick up wickets. But we’ve seen him perform under pressure and seen him break down under pressure as well. So, hopefully, we can get the upper hand against him.”
South Africa also thumped Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in their opening match on Thursday, but de Villiers promised no let-ups.
“I don’t think there will be any drop in intensity. We’re in the beginning stages of a very, very big event, a tournament that we really want to win.”
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene, meanwhile, played down the hype around Mendis, who is often compared with world record holder countryman Muttiah Muralitharan.
“They’re big boots to fill,” said Jaywardene of Murali. “It’s going to be tough for anyone to fit into Murali’s shoes because of the quality of the player.”
Jayawardene hoped his team keeps the winning momentum.
“It’s a big tournament. That itself is big motivation for the guys to make sure that intensity levels are up. We want to keep the momentum going into the next round.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2012.
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