Kusal Mendis is set for a big series, according to Russell Arnold.
Kusal Mendis is set for a big series, according to Russell Arnold.

Arnold compares youngster to Sri Lankan great

He may be unheralded in Australia but Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis has been tipped to make everyone sit up and take notice in their two-Test series starting in Brisbane.

The 23-year-old is no stranger to Australia's attack after inspiring Sri Lanka's 3-0 sweep in the last Test series the two teams played in 2016 with his maiden ton, a majestic 176 at Kandy.

Yet former Sri Lanka player Russel Arnold believes Mendis may yet become a household name Down Under after their series starting in Brisbane on Thursday.

Arnold said Mendis was primed to step up in the absence of star Angelo Mathews (hamstring), already reminding him of ex-skipper Mahela Jayawardene - the first Sri Lankan to reach the magical 10,000 Test run milestone.

"He's a massive factor. He's one of Sri Lanka's shining lights and a player for the future," said Arnold, who played the last of his 44 Tests in 2004 against Australia.

"I think he can be very, very good. He is like a Jayawardene, more instinctive rather than (fellow Sri Lankan batting great) Kumar Sangakkara who is more precise in everything he does."

The signs are good for a breakout series against Australia for Mendis. Luck appears to be on his side after he escaped serious injury when struck on the hand while fielding in their recent drawn tour match against Cricket Australia XI in Hobart.

Form also doesn't seem to be a problem after becoming one of only two batsmen - alongside Indian great Virat Kohli - to hit 1000 Test runs in 2018. He was the youngest player to achieve the feat since South Africa's AB de Villiers in 2005.

Then there's his track record against Australia.

His finest hour remains his 176 in first Test against Australia in 2016, turning the series in the hosts' favour on a Kandy wicket where no other player passed 60.

But Arnold admitted for Mendis to shine, the star batsman would need a little help from his friends.

 

Mendis escaped injury when he was struck in the tour game last week.
Mendis escaped injury when he was struck in the tour game last week.

"You'll remember him from how he approached the Aussie attack in home conditions (in 2016) - it was a brilliant knock coming from behind," he said.

"That's the type of player he is and for his best to come out the others around him have to make sure they put up resistance, build partnerships and absorb pressure so he can express himself and show how good he is.

"That is what will set Mendis free...to not be thinking of holding an innings together."

News Corp Australia


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