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Wed Apr 23 21:41:54 SAST 2014

South Africa out to tame Sri Lanka's Mendis

Sapa-AFP | 21 September, 2012 11:500 Comments
Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis celebrates taking the wicket of Zimbabwe's Elton Chigumbura during their Twenty20 World Cup cricket match in Hambantota September 18, 2012
Image by: Dinuka Liyanawatte / REUTERS

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 a group C match in Hambantota on Saturday.

Mendis, 27, sounded a warning to all batsmen by picking up 6-8 — 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 on Friday. “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 and not let him bowl to us.”  South Africa also thumped Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in their opening match on Thursday to qualify for the Super Eights round with Sri Lanka 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,” said de Villiers of South Africa, who are among the title favourites in the 12-team event.

The South African captain admitted his team were underdogs against the fancied hosts.

“We know we’re not a perfect team. Sri Lanka are the home team and we’re probably underdogs. We’ll try and gain more momentum out of the game,” said de Villiers, whose country has not won a major event since winning the 1998 ICC knock out event in Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene played down the hype around Mendis, who is often compared with world record holder countryman Muttiah Muralitharan.

“They’re big boots to fill. It’s going to be tough for anyone to fit into Murali’s shoes because of the quality of the player,” said Jayawardene of Murali, whose 800 Tests and 534 one-day wickets are the highest in the world.

“It’s going to be tough for these youngsters to say they’re going to be the next Murali. What we encourage them to be is the best they can be. If they can do good job for Sri Lanka over the next 10 years, then that will be great.”  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,” said Jayawardene.

The Sri Lanka captain praised South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who recorded the best figures for his country in all Twenty20 with 4-15 against Zimbabwe.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that Jacques would be the best all-rounder in our generation in all forms of the game. He’s improving everyday and that’s because of the hunger that he has and the competitive edge,” he added.


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