England got their first look at Sri Lankan ambidextrous spin bowler Kamindu Mendis in their first warm-up game against a Sri Lanka Cricket XI in Colombo today.
The tourists won a rain-affected game by 43 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, Joe Root top scoring with 90 not out but the main story came in the form of Kamindu Mendis’ varied bowling that was on show.
Mendis bowled right-arm off-spin and slow left-arm, switching as the right-handed Root and left-handed Morgan came on strike. 20-year-old Mendis returned figures of 0-37 from eight overs, as well as scoring a handy 61 in his side’s innings to highlight his allround abilities.
The young bowler first caught the eye during the Under-19 World Cup in 2016 when he bowled left and right arm deliveries in the same over against Pakistan.
Mendis is not the only top level bowler capable of such feats although it is rare. Indian bowler Ashkay Karnewar, for example, caught Australia’s touring team off guard in a warm-up match in Chennai last year.
The presence of Mendis caused quite a stir and Moeen Ali was certainly impressed.
Moeen told BBC Sport: “It’s amazing he was so accurate with both arms and really it will be the way cricket is going to go.
“I’ve tried bowling left-arm but I was so bad – you just don’t have that same feel.
“You hear rumours about these guys being around but for him to bowl to that standard and be that good is fantastic.
“I’ve never seen someone do that live but it’s great and fantastic for the game.”