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    Kusal relives the moment when Sri Lanka beat England

    June 25, 2019

    LEEDS, Monday – Kusal Mendis admitted that his heart was in his mouth when he spilled a catch given by England’s Ben Stokes during the crucial World Cup match played at Headingley here on Friday that Sri Lanka managed to win by 20 runs to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive.

    The dangerous Stokes was on 57 and batting with last man Mark Wood when he pulled a delivery from Lasith Malinga bowling his last over of the innings to deep midwicket where Mendis put down a tough chance. Had he held the catch it would have been all over for England at that stage as they required 46 runs for victory
    The dropped chance also deprived match-winner bowler Malinga of a five-for in a World Cup. He had to be eventually satisfied with four wickets for 43 runs, but along with it he added another feather in his cap by becoming only the fourth bowler in the World Cup to take 50 wickets. Stokes made use of the dropped catch to chance his arm and hammer Isuru Udana for two consecutive sixes in an over that cost the bowler 15 runs.
    That was the time when Mendis became nervous as England started to edge towards their victory target which was now reduced to 30 off 24 balls and Stokes was a player who was capable of winning it for his team with his broad bat. “I missed a catch and was very scared. But Nuwan (Pradeep) got that wicket and when he did, I said thanks to God,” said Mendis. “Against the world No.1 team, it was a great opportunity and a great win. We know we have lost a lot of ODI matches in the last two years. But today we came to the World Cup,” he said.
    Sri Lanka’s win actually centred on the performances of their two most experienced campaigners Malinga and Angelo Mathews. While Malinga excelled with the ball, Mathews returned to form to score an undefeated 85 that was the substance of Sri Lanka’s total of 232-9. Mathews had a terrible run of form before that innings scoring only 9 runs in three innings, but he proved that class was permanent. “Angelo was about to come back to form, the team had every confidence that he will regain his form,” said Mendis.“I hope in the next match he will get a hundred. Angelo is a past captain, he has played a lot of T20s, he manages pressure situations and Lasith is the same he is always talking to the bowlers and giving them confidence”.
    “Malinga is a legend, ever since I have known him he has been a legend. He has a lot of variations and is a good experienced player who has played a lot of T20 matches. He is a match-winning bowler who has that good confidence. He told all the bowlers to use the variations, he told all the players we could do it. He is the captain of the bowling team. I don’t like facing him in the nets because he bowls slow balls, bouncers and yorkers,” disclosed Mendis who himself is short of runs like Mathews.
    Mendis 24, made 46 his highest score in the World Cup and like Mathews he has class written all over him and it is only a matter of time before he delivers big. Sri Lanka will require that effort from him in their three remaining matches against South Africa, West Indies and India if they are to qualify for a place in the semi-finals.

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