Ajantha Mendis can demolish a team, which does not know how to pick the balls that come out of his right hand. Zimbabwe, in the opening encounter of the World T20 at Hambantota, had absolutely no clue how to play the bowler, with the spinner picking up a massive six wickets as Sri Lanka thrashed Zimbabwe by 82 runs.
Ajantha Mendis finished with astonishing figures of six for 8, the best-ever figures in T20 internationals, with Jeevan Mendis chipping in with three wickets and smashing a quickfire 43, to help his team post a total of 182 for four, as the hosts began their World T20 campaign on a sound note.
Ajantha Mendis was the tormentor-in-chief for the Lankans, picking up two wickets off two consecutive balls in his very first over. The writing was on the wall from there on for Zimbabwe, as Ajantha Mendis systematically tore through the batting line-up, with Lasith Malinga finishing things off in the 18th over; Zimbabwe all out for 100. Interestingly, nine of the ten Zimbabwe wickets had the Mendis name attached to it.
Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara and Jeevan Mendis gave Sri Lanka the momentum, a 94-run partnership for the fourth wicket giving the hosts the impetus to post the competitive total, which proved to be more than enough. Sangakkara, was his typical self, only playing one dot ball all innings, picking off the Zimbabwean bowlers for the singles and twos, while patiently waiting for the bad balls.
A perfectly timed pick up six that went a long way in the sizeable ground at Hambantota, typified the classy left-hander's innings, with the former captain running himself out in the last over for a well-played 44 off just 26 balls.
At the other end, it was Jeevan Mendis who started the boundary glut, allowing Sangakkara to settle before his senior partner could launch at the Zimbabwean bowlers.
Mendis was unconquered on 43 from 30 balls, with Thisara Perera adding the gloss courtesy a six off his first ball.
Earlier, the two Dilshans -- Tillakaratne and Munaweera - began well, with Tillakaratne Dilshan laying into the bowling side, with his trademark shots on the up. The Dilscoop came out a little later, fetching him what is the norm it seems with the shot, a four.
Munaweera, who was dropped twice by Malcolm Waller, was run out -- one of three run outs in the innings, after the opener lost his bat, allowing wicketkeeper and captain Brendan Taylor to whip off the stumps, with the batsman well short.
Mahela Jayawardene did not quite look himself, struggling to a 18-ball 13, not able to take advantage of a reprieve when the umpire gave him lbw off Graeme Cremer's bowling, but had to call the batsman back after replays showed a backfoot no-ball. Jayawardene was another run out victim, failing to make his crease while trying to complete a double.
Dilshan, had earlier got out in the same over in which Jayawardene got a life, caught behind by Taylor off Cremer while trying a cut shot.
It was up to Sangakkara and Mendis to pick up the slack and put a good score on the board, and the left-handed duo did splendidly well to take Sri Lanka to 182.