Kusal Mendis on Thushara's hat-trick: 'Reminded me of how Malinga bowled'

Bangladesh captain Shanto meanwhile said his batters weren’t used to playing bowlers with a slingy action like Thushara’s

Mohammad Isam

10-Mar-2024 • 22 hrs ago

Nuwan Thushara picked up 5 for 20 in the third T20I  •  SA20

Kusal Mendis was reminded of Lasith Malinga when he watched Nuwan Thushara bowl a match-winning spell of 5 for 20, which included a hat-trick, in the third T20I against Bangladesh.

“I’m very happy for him,” Mendis said. “With the World Cup around the corner, it’s great to have many of our bowlers in such form. He’s been playing in franchise leagues for some time – he played well in South Africa [SA20] as well – I think that’s also why he was able to give his best for the team when we needed him.

“It was those three wickets [in his hat-trick] that the match turned in our favour. It reminded me of how Mali aiya [Lasith Malinga] bowled.”

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Coming in to bowl in the fourth over of Bangladesh’s chase of 175, Thushara, who has a slingy, low-arm action similar to Malinga, removed the Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto off the second ball and then dismissed Towhid Hridoy and Mahmudullah to complete his hat-trick. All three were full, swinging deliveries as he deceived the batters with his pace, swing and low bounce. He later removed Soumya Sarkar and Shoriful Islam to complete the five-for, his best figures in T20Is.

“I agree that the whole match pivoted in that one over,” Shanto said. “He bowled a very good over. I think we have to credit the bowler. We were held back by that over. I felt that if we could have handled that over better, or generally held our own against the new ball, we could have had a different result.

“He got a bit of swing. He has that action. He wasn’t getting a lot of bounce due to his side-arm action. It was keeping low. This won’t happen all the time, but we have to tackle these things better in the future.

“We don’t usually get to play a bowling action like his. We played well against [Matheesha] Pathirana in the first two matches. I think the new ball swung a lot. We have to plan better, and accept such things in international cricket.”

Kusal Mendis was in top form in the seriesAFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh also had to contend with a familiar threat in the form of Mendis, who made 86 off 55 to single-handedly take Sri Lanka to a competitive 174 for 7. He now has six fifties against Bangladesh, the the most by any batter in T20Is against this opposition. He also finished the T20I series as the highest run-scorer with 181 from three games.

“In the previous couple of T20s before this series I wasn’t really in the runs, so in the first game I was focusing on providing the team with what it needs,” Mendis said. “More than me scoring runs, I wanted to do what was best for the team, and I’m glad I was able to do that consistently over the series.

“It gets a little easier to bat here [in Sylhet] once you’re at the crease for a while, especially under lights. The boundaries are also close in, so you can score boundaries in any way that you’re comfortable. I’m happy with the way I performed in these conditions.”

Shanto meanwhile said there were a few positives in Bangladesh’s defeat, picking out legspinner Rishad Hossain for his all-round abilities. “He [Rishad] bowled very well according to the conditions,” Shanto said. “We needed his batting because we now play with six specialist batters and an allrounder. I think his batting is one to look out for the future.

“There were positives in this series. The way we fought back even after losing early wickets, in the first match and the third match. The way the bowlers made a comeback in this game.”

Kusal MendisNuwan ThusharaNajmul Hossain ShantoBangladeshSri LankaBangladesh vs Sri LankaBangladesh vs Sri Lanka

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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