“I will not play differently even though I am the captain” – Kusal Mendis

ICC Cricket World Cup 2023

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2023

Wicket-keeper batter Kusal Mendis will become Sri Lanka’s 26th ODI captain, replacing the injured Dasun Shanaka, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament due to a thigh injury.

Reporting from Lucknow, India

Mendis, who previously captained the Sri Lanka U19 team in 2014, will lead the national team for the first time in any format on 16th October at Lucknow against a strong Australian side, which has not lived up to their expectations, losing both their games in the tournament so far.

“Firstly, I’m very happy that I got the captaincy. I will continue to play the same way as I used to because captaincy is not something new for me. I have captained other teams before, even in the practice game in Guwahati, I led the team. There will be no change to my playing style for the team’s needs even though I am the captain.” Mendis said on the eve of the match.

Mendis has been Sri Lanka’s best batter in their World Cup campaign. He struck a whirlwind 158 in their warm-up game against Afghanistan in Guwahati. In the first game of the campaign, Mendis smashed the Proteas’ bowling line-up all over the park in Delhi with a smashing 76 off 42 balls with 4 fours and 8 sixes. 72 of his runs came in the first powerplay, which is the highest by a non-opener. His best knock in ODIs so far came against Pakistan, when he smashed the fastest century by a Sri Lankan in World Cups, reaching the triple figures in just 65 balls. He eventually fell for 122, going for the 3rd consecutive six off Hassan Ali in the same over.

“I don’t like to change the way I bat. Before coming for the World Cup, I didn’t think I would play at a higher strike rate like this. But after playing the two warm-up games, I understood that because the pitches are good, I can play freely like I used to. There will be times when I will have to be a bit more cautious in my approach because the bowlers will come hard at me with their plans. Even though I am the captain, I will not change the way I bat because I know if I am amongst the runs, we will be able to win games.” Mendis further stated.

Sri Lanka will have to make two forced changes to their team, which lost to Pakistan in Hyderabad. With Dasun Shanaka ruled out of the tournament completely, Chamika Karunaratne, who was approved as the replacement by the ICC Event Technical Committee, is set to come into the team. The other forced change will be fast bowler Lahiru Kumara replacing injured Matheesha Pathirana.

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Sri Lanka’s bowling attack will be under tremendous pressure to change things around. When they bowled first, they were hit for the highest-ever score in World Cups and then whey bowled second, they conceded the highest-ever successful run chase in World Cups.

In both games, they have conceded 773 runs in 98.2 overs at 7.86 runs per over.

We all know every bowling unit will struggle on Indian pitches due to the batting-friendly surfaces. We quickly need to adapt and I strongly believe that the bowlers will do their part to their maximum ability. Not only against us but even top-quality attacks have been taken apart and conceded 300 or 350 plus on these pitches. We cannot expect many changes instantly, but as the captain, my duty will be to understand what they do at training and try to get them to do their best.The new captain, Mendis backed his under-firing bowling attack to come good in Lucknow, which will have something for the spinners on a newly laid surface.