Sri Lanka's mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis on Wednesday hung up his boots from all formats of cricket. Mendis, famously known for his 'carrom-ball' deliveries, represented Sri Lanka in 19 Test, 87 ODIs and 39 T20Is, where he has taken 70, 152 and 66 wickets respectively.
At a time when Sri Lanka finished runners-up in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and won the ICC World T20 2014, the 34-year-old continued to make name for himself with regular five and six-wicket hauls. All in all, the bowler has got nine five-wicket hauls across the three formats, including six-wicket hauls, where he has taken two in each format.
With Mendis now calling it a day, we take a look back at some of his memorable spells across formats:
6/13 vs India, Asia Cup 2008 final at Karachi on 6 July: SL won by 100 runs
Less than three months into making his ODI debut, Mendis had already taken 11 wickets in the Asia Cup 2008, including a five-wicket haul against UAE and a four-wicket haul against Pakistan. A lot was expected from him, and Mendis lived up to those expectations with a memorable six-wicket haul.
Having been put into bat by India, Sanath Jayasuriya (125) and Tilakaratne Dilshan (56) guided Sri Lanka to 273, but during India’s run-chase, it was Mendis once again who did the damage.
During his heydays, Mendis rarely failed to rattle the stumps, and he was at it again when he clean bowled Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and RP Singh. Meanwhile, he also managed to dismiss Rohit Sharma, Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan, as India were bundled out for 173.
Mendis, adjudged Man of the Match and the Man of the tournament, eventually ended up as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker- with 17 wickets. Even Muttiah Muralitharan was six wickets behind Mendis and ended up as the second-best wicket-taker with 11 wickets.
8/132 vs India first Test at Colombo, 23-26 July, 2008: SL won by an innings and 239 runs
Ajantha Mendis could not have asked for a better Test debut. The stage was set for him to prove his mettle in Day's cricket, and he did so, with overall match figures of 8/132, picking up four wickets in each innings.
In fact, these figures from him were the best by a Sri Lankan debutant until Akila Dananjaya bettered those with an overall match spell of 8/44 against Bangladesh in February 2018.
Coming back to the match, his first Test victim was the legendary India batsman Rahul Dravid, and he let his carom ball do the talking. His carom ball landed right at the middle-stump and Dravid missed his cut.
India, replying to Sri Lanka’s total of 600/6 after the hosts declared, were eventually bowled out for 223, with Mendis finishing that innings with figures of 4/72.
With the visitors following on after being behind by 377 runs, Mendis once again showed his brilliance in the second innings with a spell of 4/ 60 as India were bundled out for 138.
10/209 vs India second Test at Galle, 31 July to 3 August, 2008: India won by 170 runs
Not all efforts come in match-winning instances, and this was one of those days. After winning the toss, India got off to a very strong start, thanks to a brilliant double century from Virender Sehwag (201) and Gautam Gambhir.
Undoubtedly, Mendis was the first to strike for Sri Lanka, having removed Gautam Gambhir to break the 167-run opening stand. This was followed by the wicket of Rahul Dravid, who was dismissed less than two overs later.
And although the Indian batsmen continued fighting back, Mendis ensured that India were dismissed for 329 by seeing off four others- VVS Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.
After the Lankans fought back to register a total of 292, Mendis struck again to dismiss Gautam Gambhir courtesy his off-break, although it was a little bit too late, with India’s score reading 144-2.
His next wicket came only 22 overs later, when Laxman was struck leg before wicket.
Although he also picked up the wickets of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, the visitors had already set a target of 307 for the hosts to chase. Mendis finished with figures of 4/92.
Sri Lanka, in the run-chase, were eventually dismissed for 136 with Thilan Samaraweera (67) and Tilakaratne Dilshan (38) being the main contributors.
6/16, Sri Lanka vs Australia 2nd T20I at Pallekelle, 8 August, 2011: Sri Lanka won by eight runs
Sri Lanka were facing one of the most formidable Australian teams — consisting of top-order batsmen like Shane Watson, David Warner and David Hussey as well as fiery pacers like Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee.
Having elected to bat, Sri Lanka got off to a patchy start after losing Tilakaretne Dilshan early. However, Mahela Jayawardene’s 86, along with cameos from Dinesh Chandimal (13) and Kumar Sangakkara (26) lifted the hosts to 157/9.
It was that situation again when one of the Sri Lankan bowlers had to step up and it was none other than Mendis. Although Shane Watson and David Warner got the run chase off to a smooth start, the mystery spinner came into play, removing both the openers in a span of fewer than two overs.
Thanks to his flighted googly, he also saw off Shaun Marsh just three delivers after Warner’s dismissal as Kumar Sangakkara did well behind the stumps to stump him.
In the 16th over, Mendis got an opportunity to take his first hat-trick, when he dismissed Steve Smith and Brad Haddin. However, despite not getting a hat-trick, he saw off Mitchell Johnson thanks to his carom-ball and eventually became the first bowler to take six wickets in a T20I innings.
6/8 vs Zimbabwe, ICC World T0 2012 match at Hambantota, 18 September 2012: SL won by 82 runs
Yet another Mendis spell, yet another match-winning effort. This time, in a global event against a relatively easy opposition and a comfortable win.
This was one of Mendis’ personal best tournaments, where he picked up 15 wickets. And there was yet another six-wicket haul in the bag.
Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis’ (43) efforts had guided the hosts to a strong total of 182-4, and it was Mendis’ time to shine once again.
He struck in the sixth over, removing Vusi Sibanda, and off the very next ball, Brendan Taylor was stumped by Sangakkara off his bowling. He continued his spree by dismissing Hamilton Masakadza and Craig Ervine and then sending back Prosper Utseya and Kyle Jarvis to leave Zimbabwe at 8-87. The African’s were eventually bundled out for 100 and undoubtedly Mendis was declared Man of the Match.