Ajantha Mendis: IPL with KKR was really special

The former Sri Lankan international has plans to involve himself with the senior team as a spin coach after announcing his retirement in 2019.

Former Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis has a total of 288 international wickets.   -  GETTY IMAGES

It’s been nearly seven months since Ajantha Mendis quit international cricket, and these days, the former Sri Lankan spin ace is busy grooming the youngsters at his academy.

Even before hanging up his boots -- in August last year -- Mendis has been associated with Sri Lanka army as a coaching staff. And in the years to come, he plans to be involved with the Sri Lankan cricket team.

“I want to be associated with the Sri Lanka team as a spin coach. I have done Level-III ICC coaching and with a bit more international experience (in coaching), I would like to help out our players,” Mendis told Sportstar during an interaction.

Mendis was in the city recently for the UnAcademy Road Safety World Series -- which eventually got called off due to coronavirus pandemic. “I have a coaching facility in Sri Lanka, where I am looking forward to bring out young cricketers. We can guide them and ensure that they get the basics right,” he said.

When he broke into the scene, a decade and a half ago, Mendis was branded a ‘mystery spinner’, and he went on to play 19 Tests, 87 ODIs and 39 T20Is for Sri Lanka, scalping a total of 288 international wickets.

Now that he is into coaching, what are his thoughts on the young tweakers going around?

Mendis fondly remembers his time with KKR in the IPL. Photo: AFP


“As young spinners, they can come up with a lot of variation. That’s most important and the standard of the game has improved, so it’s important,” he said. “You need to know how to turn and maintain line and length. If you have two or three weapons, you can survive in international cricket,” Mendis said.

The 35-year-old also rates India’s Kuldeep Yadav pretty highly. “He has a lot of variation in his bowling and he is quite different from others. He is very impressive,” Mendis said. Even though Kuldeep has been struggling for a while, Mendis believes that the chinaman bowler needs to ‘practice more and work on his technique a bit to get back to the rhythm’.

In the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), in 2008, Mendis was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders as a replacement bowler and he quickly impressed with his performances. “I still remember the 2008 IPL. I was playing domestic cricket then and the KKR officials believed in me. I have visited India many times after that and have always enjoyed [my time here]. The IPL with KKR was really special,” he reminisced. 

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